Home Legislation passes House legalizing marriage equality for all

Legislation passes House legalizing marriage equality for all

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The Respect for Marriage Act passed the House July 19 with a 267-157 vote, including 47 Republicans.

The legislation, which now goes before the Senate, seeks marriage equality for all genders, including federal rights, benefits and obligations of marriages in federal code. The bill would also repeal the 1990s-era Defense of Marriage Act, and affirm that public acts, records and proceedings be recognized by states.

The nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, The Human Rights Campaign, celebrated the bipartisan passage “and now call on the U.S. Senate to pass this important legislation swiftly.”

HRC’s interim president Joni Madison issued a statement. “The Defense of Marriage Act — which shamefully excluded legally married same-sex couples from accessing the federal rights, benefits and obligations of marriage — is a black mark upon our nation that needs to be erased from our code of law. The Respect for Marriage Act is an opportunity to right this legislative wrong by replacing this black mark with an inclusive law that standardizes the mechanism for evaluating when a marriage should be given federal recognition and which affirms that public acts, records and judicial proceedings should be honored across this country.”

According to HRC, a 2022 survey shows that nearly 7 in 10, or 68 percent of, Americans support marriage equality. Support for same-sex marriage has increased 14 percentage points since 2014 to 54 percent. Republicans are divided on the issue with 48 percent in support and 50 percent opposed. Eighty-one percent of Democrats support same-sex marriages.

The legislation establishes “place of celebration,” which means that if marriage equality were not recognized in one state, a same-sex couple could travel to a state that does recognize it, get married and still retain federal marriage benefits.

Virginia Congressman A. Donald McEachin, a proud member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, voted in support of H.R. 8404, a bill which he originally cosponsored.

“The Supreme Court’s recent departure from judicial precedent and Justice Thomas’s concurrence in Dobbs ­has left many families worried about their future,” McEachin said in a press release. “This far-right Supreme Court threatens constitutional rights that millions of Americans currently enjoy. We saw it happen with reproductive health care, and now Justice Thomas has called into question access to contraception, marriage equality and the legality of same-sex relations. We will not stand idly by why these rights are undermined.”

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger also voted in favor of and cosponsored the legislation.

“This moment requires lawmakers to stand with the people they represent, because if decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia come under threat in the wake of Dobbs, the consequences could be devastating for far too many Americans — including in Virginia,” Spanberger said in a press release. “Today, I proudly voted to stand with same-sex couples, interracial couples, and their loved ones —and I will take this vote 1,000 times if it means protecting these constituents and their families from discrimination.”

U.S. Rep. Elaina Luria voted in support of the legislation.

“When I was deployed on combat ships in the Navy, I never once looked at the person to either side of me and asked who they loved,” Luria said in a press release. “Virginia has played a critical role in the freedom of Americans to marry who they love, and I was proud to vote today to enshrine marriage equality into federal law. The right of same sex couples to marry has been settled law for more than a decade, and I will continue fighting to protect the rights of all Americans, including the right to marry who you love and the right to choose.”

Rep. Don Beyer also voted in support of the legislation. In a press release, Beyer said the vote comes days after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin dodged questions about whether he supports same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth.

“It is deeply unfortunate that we still have to debate marriage equality in the year 2022, but once that debate was thrust upon us, House Democrats took swift action to protect Americans’ freedoms,” Beyer said in the press release. “This vote was made necessary by the Supreme Court’s reactionary decision overturning Dobbs in a way that clearly undercut basic privacy rights. Justice Thomas said the quiet part out loud by calling for the Court to overturn its landmark ruling in Obergefell, and today the vast majority of House Republicans voted against codifying marriage equality. Even Gov. Youngkin has refused to take a stance in defense of this basic right which is overwhelmingly popular in Virginia. It is an undeniable fact that opposition to marriage equality remains widespread among Republicans, who are wildly out of touch with the views of the American people on this issue. I look forward to additional votes to protect other basic freedoms threatened by an out-of-control right wing Court majority.”

“Today, we took an important step in defending the many families and children who rely on the constitutional right to marriage equality. I urge the Senate to move this legislation forward expeditiously to ensure it remains the law of the land,” McEachin said.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the U.S. House by U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York and David Cicilline of Rhonde Island. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Diane Feinstein of California and Susan Collins of Maine.

Advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG, support the legislation.



Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.