U.S. Senate passes Respect for Marriage Act

The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Image by MotionStudios from Pixabay)

The U.S. Senate voted to codify marriage equality on Tuesday night.

The Respect for Marriage Act was passed with 62 votes, with 12 Republicans voting for the measure, according to Politico.

The bill was introduced in the House in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade made the overturn of other decisions, such as marriage equality, a possibility. It makes same-sex marriage and interracial marriage legal in all 50 states without relying on the courts. The law wouldn’t require states to allow marriages within their borders, but they would have to recognize marriages from other states.

Illinois legalized marriage equality with legislation in 2013 with the first marriages taking place in early 2014.

Politico reported that the bill will go to the U.S. House for a vote, where it is expected to pass easily. The House passed it’s own version of the act back in July. It passed then with 50 Republican votes. Even if some of those representatives change their vote, Democrats still control the House until next term starts in January.

Biden is expected to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.

“The bipartisan vote by the U.S. Senate in support of the Respect for Marriage Act is an important step towards ensuring protections for LGBTQ+ families,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Deputy Director of Equality Illinois. “We thank our own U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for their support of this initiative.”

She said that the Senate could still do more to protect the LGBTQ community, including passing the Equality Act, the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Right to Contraception Act.

“As more and more state legislatures, governors, and judges roll back civil rights protections and prohibit access to and criminalize abortion, gender-affirming care, HIV prevention drugs, and other essential healthcare services, the Senate must act expeditiously to enshrine enduring protections in federal law,” Ruiz-Velasco said.

“This landmark piece of legislation protects the marriages of millions of LGBTQ Americans who have not slept well for months, wondering if our marriages would be dissolved by an activist court,” said Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “While the Respect for Marriage Act is undoubtedly one of the most important pro-LGBTQ laws ever passed, it does not require states to grant marriages to LGBTQ couples. Until then, our fight is not over.”

In his concurrent opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center overturning Roe, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said that Obergfell v. Hodges, which legalized marriage equality, should be overturned. No other justice joined him on that opinion.