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US House of Representatives passes LGBTQ marriage protections | LGBTQ News


The US House of Representatives voted again to pass Respect the Marriage Acta bill providing federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage.

An earlier version of the bill was first passed by the House in July, in a surprise bipartisan vote that brought 47 Republicans along with a majority of Democrats to win the total votes from 267 to 157.

Thursday’s vote also saw bipartisan support. The Respect for Marriage Act was passed between 258 and 169, with 39 Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic front.

The bill is currently headed for Democratic President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign into law. The vote comes as Democrats prepare to lose their majority in the House, after November midterm elections.

The Respect for Marriage Act is a landmark piece of legislation that prevents states from denying “out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” It also “repeals and supersedes” existing federal law that defines marriage as between individuals of the opposite sex.

Such laws have become unenforceable, following Supreme Court decisions such as Obergefell v Hodges in 2015, guaranteeing marriage rights for same-sex couples.

But House Democrats pushed for the Respect for Marriage Act this past summer following the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Foundation. That decision reversed nearly half a century of court precedent of denying federal abortion rights in the United States, giving states the power to regulate access to reproductive rights.

An opinion piece in that case written by Conservative Judge Clarence Thomas suggested that the Supreme Court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedent,” naming Obergefell’s decision among them.

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who expected to take the top spot of Democrats in the House of Representatives in January, took aim at Justice Thomas and the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in his remarks ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Quoting the Declaration of Independence – “We take these truths for granted, that all men are created equal” – Jeffries points out that that ideal does not apply to all people equally in throughout history.

“It certainly doesn’t apply to the LGBTQ community. But through a process of constitutional amendments, ratifications, court decisions and legislation, those words increasingly come to life as we journey towards a more perfect union,” said Jeffries. .

“That is the work being done today with the Respect for Marriage Act, especially since the radical, right-wing, reckless and regressive Supreme Court majority threatens marriage freedom and equality. “

Meanwhile, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, meanwhile, dismissed Democrats’ concerns that Supreme Court precedents such as Obergefell and Loving v Virginia – which supported interracial marriage in 1967 – might overturned.

“The Democrats created this nonexistent threat, based on a line in Judge Thomas’ concurrence with Dobbs. And they are misinterpreting or intentionally misrepresenting what Justice Thomas wrote,” he told the House of Commons.

House Republicans also took to the podium to denounce the Respect for Marriage Act as an attack on religious freedom. Virginia Representative Bob Good said he was “strongly opposed” to the bill, calling it disrespectful.

“The fact is, traditional marriage in the Bible is the foundation of a strong society and a strong culture. Let me say it again: Almost everything that plagues our society comes from disobeying God’s plan for marriage, morality, and family,” Good said.

He warned that the bill would “ensure that marriage laws in the most liberal state, no matter how radical they may become in the future – such as polygamy, bestiality, child marriage or whatever – must be legally recognized in all states”.

The Respect for Marriage Act explicitly prohibits polygamy. It also includes a number of Republican amendments to recognize and protect religious freedom, including language to ensure that its content is not used to target or deny interests. government, such as tax-exempt status, based on religious beliefs.

After adding guarantees to ensure that religious organizations cannot be sued in their own language, the Respect for Marriage Act through the US Senate with bipartisan support in November, by a vote of 61 to 36.

    Senators speaking at a press conference
Senator Tammy Baldwin speaks after bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate on November 29, 2022 [Sarah Silbiger/Reuters]

Several prominent religious organizations have also announced support for the bill, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon church.

In November, it issued a press release saying the church was “deeply grateful for the continued efforts of those working to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes safeguards for religious freedom.” religion while respecting the law and protecting the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, who sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, emphasized the point on Thursday, telling the House of Representatives that, “in contrast to expressed concerns about religious freedom, almost every church group in the United States has endorsed this measure.”

The Respect for Marriage Act has a narrow mandate. It will not codify the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. If the Supreme Court ever reversed its decisions allowing same-sex and interracial marriage, the bill would not prevent states from blocking such unions.

But the act would repeal laws like the Marriage Protection Act of 1996, which limited the definition of marriage to “between a man and a woman” for purposes of federal recognition and benefit. It also prohibits states from denying the validity of marriages performed in other states based on factors such as race, sex, and ethnicity.

In his remarks ahead of Thursday’s vote, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the Respect for Marriage Act as a bulwark against “right-wing extremists”.

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, right-wing forces have targeted this fundamental individual freedom,” Pelosi said, citing her work in the name of marriage equality. core.

“Today, we will put marriage equality into federal law now and for generations.”

The Supreme Court heard the arguments on Wednesday at the case of a Colorado website designer sought exemption from state anti-discrimination laws, citing her refusal to serve same-sex couples as a violation of her religious freedom.

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