BREAKING: House Passes Marriage Equality Bill and Sends it to Biden to Sign
UPDATE 12/08/2022 11:40AM EST The House on Thursday passed a bill that protects marriage equality, and will now send it
UPDATE 12/08/2022 11:40AM EST
The House on Thursday passed a bill that protects marriage equality, and will now send it to the desk of President Joe Biden to sign.
This marks the first time that Congress has provided federal protection for same-sex marriage.
The piece of legislation passed the House in a vote of 258-169-1 with thirty-nine Republicans crossing the aisle to join Democrats in supporting the bill. Biden is expected to quickly sign the legislation into law.
Original story continues below:
The Senate passed legislation yesterday mandating recognition for same-sex and interracial marriages on the federal level. The measure, called the Respect for Marriage Act, passed with a final vote of 61-36. The landmark decision is important for a few critical reasons including its bipartisanship and its timing.
Same-Sex Marriage Support
First, the bill was supported by all 47 members of the Democratic caucus, a dozen Republicans and two Independents. The 36 votes against the Respect for Marriage Act came from Republican Senators. Additionally, three senators (Ben Sasse of NE, Patrick Toomey of PA and Raphael Warnock of GA) did not cast a vote either because they are retiring or campaigning for re-election.
President Joe Biden said in a statement, “With today’s [Tuesday] bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”
“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”President Joe Biden on Senate passing Respect for Marriage Act
The Senate’s passing of the legislation came at a critical time for the country. In January of 2023 Republicans assume control of the House of Representatives. That marks the end of Democratic control of Capitol Hill. Now that the Respect for Marriage Act has passed in the Senate, it will now go to The House where the legislation is expected to pass before getting sent to President Joe Biden to have it signed into law. The legislation could hit the President’s desk as early as next week but most certainly before the end of the year.
“I look forward to welcoming them [leaders of the legislation] at the White House after the House passes this legislation and sends it to my desk, where I will promptly and proudly sign it into law,” said President Biden.
What The Bill Does and Does Not Do
The Respect for Marriage Act, after its passing, will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. The Defense of Marriage Act denied federal benefits to same-sex couples and defined marriage as only lawful when between a man and a woman.
Today’s Respect for Marriage Act stops short of legalizing same-sex marriage in all states. However, it does is require states that do not recognize same-sex or interracial marriage inside their borders to uphold the marriage of a couple who was wed in a state that does recognize a same-sex or interracial union. In other words, if a couple was wed in a state that allows same-sex marriage and then moves to another state that does not recognize the marriage, that state is required to give them the same protections it affords to all married couples.
The Respect for Marriage Act does have a stipulation insisted on by the Republicans that backed the bill. It allows for religious organizations to have the freedom to be required to provide any goods or services for a wedding or marriage. It also protects a religious organization from losing their tax exempt status should they refuse to provide wedding services.
Sense of Urgency
The new approved legislation has been at the top of many lawmakers to-do list since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade earlier this year. The five century old federal protection of abortion was repealed this summer with conflicting majorities being written. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion that the 2022 decision would not impact other privacy rights. However, Supreme Court Clarence Thomas in his opinion called for other aspects such as marriage equality to be “reconsidered.”
The latest show of support of marriage equality from the U.S. government is inline with the opinion of Americans. A Gallup poll conducted last Spring says that 71% of Americans support legal same-sex marriage – an all time high. Interestingly enough, the same question was posed in 1996 when the Defense of Marriage Act passed and the results concluded only 27% of Americans were in support of legalized same-sex marriage. In other words, more Americans support the move today than they did a quarter of a century ago – by a lot.
Show of Support
Notable members and supporters of same-sex marriage showed support to the Senate for passing the legislation on social media. Former talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted, “The Senate has passed the Respect for Marriage Act. I hope this is a step towards protecting love and happiness for years to come.”
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, a married gay man said, “Strange feeling, to see something as basic and as personal as the durability of your marriage come up for debate on the Senate floor.”