House Passes Bill to Protect Marriage Equality

The Democrat-led House voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act bill on Tuesday, which would recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level.

The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The latter was struck down in 2015 with a court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that made same-sex marriage a right under the 14th Amendment, but the 1996 act is still in the books.

The vote was 267 to 157, with 47 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for the bill on Tuesday, July 19. It faces sharp opposition in the Senate, which will require at least 10 Republicans to team with the Democrats to defeat a filibuster.

“I, along with my Democratic colleagues, will not be idle bystanders while the constitutional rights and freedoms that underpin our democracy are shredded,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee who introduced the act, said in a statement. “Today’s vote was about protecting the children and loving families whose whole lives rely on the constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will take up this bipartisan bill without delay and provide much needed stability and certainty for the families that have been shaken to their core by Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs v Jackson.”

Beyond codifying same-sex marriage throughout the United States, the bill also addresses federal protections for interracial marriages. Additional legal safeguards include protection for married couples against discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The legislation is among several Democrat-led legal moves in the works following the Republican-stacked Supreme Court’s decision to take away the rights of women when it overturned Roe v. Wade. Another bill House Democrats are eyeing to champion this week is one that will guarantee access to contraception.

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