news u s house passes respect for marriage act sending bill to biden for signature
Virginia

U.S. House passes Respect for Marriage Act, sending bill to Biden for signature

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We had ourselves another moment of quasi-bipartisanship on same-sex marriage Thursday, with 33 Republicans joining Democrats in a 258-169 House vote to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, sending the bill to President Biden for his signature to make it a law.

Last week, 12 Republicans joined Democrats in a 61-36 Senate vote passing the measure, which will extend federal protections for same-sex marriages and interracial marriages, ensuring that those marriages are recognized by all 50 states.

The stakes on this issue were raised when Republicans won a slim majority in the U.S. House in last month’s midterms. The new Congress won’t be seated until January, giving Democrats a few weeks in the lame-duck session to address priorities.

And the protection of the rights of same-sex couples to marry and have their marriages recognized is a priority in the wake of the Trump Court rewriting the Constitution on a daily basis.

“I was proud to vote today to ensure that the federal government will never stand in the way of Americans marrying the person they love and send the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act to President Biden’s desk for his signature,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA-02), who was defeated in her bid for re-election last month.

“The passage of the Respect for Marriage Act today is historic, and I will continue fighting to protect the rights of all Americans, including the right to marry who you love,” Luria said.

The Respect for Marriage Act will officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a Bill Clinton-era law excluding same-sex couples from marriage under federal law.

The bill headed to Biden’s desk will also codify new protections to ensure that no married couple can be denied protections and benefits under federal law based on sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The Trump Court had signaled in its ruling in the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade that it is willing to reconsider existing protections for other fundamental rights — including the right to same-sex marriage recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The right to interracial marriage also relies on the same constitutional doctrines as the right to same-sex marriage — leaving it vulnerable as well to a legal challenge.

“The Supreme Court’s rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia have allowed millions of Virginians and Americans across our country in same-sex and interracial couples to marry legally. But the Dobbs decision cast a dark shadow over those rights,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07). “I’m proud that a bipartisan majority of my colleagues voted to pass these protections and send this legislation to the president’s desk to make sure that marriage equality remains the law of the land. Enshrining into federal law the right of all Americans to marry the person they love demonstrates our commitment to protecting their constitutional rights.”

“Passage of the Respect For Marriage Act is a victory for freedom, civil rights, and love. I look forward to seeing President Biden sign this historic bill into law very soon,” said Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA-08).

“Many of us hoped that the issue of marriage equality had been permanently settled, but the reactionary Dobbs ruling from the Supreme Court’s right wing made it clear that the rights protected by this bill were under threat. The General Assembly and Governor Youngkin must protect marriage equality in the Commonwealth by repealing Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. Virginians overwhelmingly value equality and freedom, and they deserve this basic measure of respect from their leaders.”

“With our passage of the Respect for Marriage Act today, equality and love win,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10). “In the face of bigoted attacks from courts and state legislatures on LGBTQ+ rights, we’re taking action to uphold marriage equality under federal law and ensure that the government never stands in the way of marrying the person you love. I will always fight to uphold fundamental freedoms and advance equality for all LGBTQ+ Americans.”

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].