Tuesday, November 29, 2022, was a happy day for the American LGBTQ+ community after the US Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a legislation aimed at protecting same-sex marriage.
The Senate House must now pass the bill, and senator Steny Hoyer, majority leader, stated that this would be done by the end of this year - perhaps even as soon as next week. The Respect for Marriage Act was passed 61 to 36, with 60 votes needed to pass. Out of the 61 votes, 49 came from Democrats and 12 from Republicans. One Democrat senator and two Republican senators were absent.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a similar bill with the support from 47 Republican representatives and all Democrat representatives. The Respect for Marriage Act would now need the approval of the House of Representatives before being sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.
The bill was passed with the Roe v Wade overturn in mind, in an attempt of protecting same-sex marriage from having the same destiny as the right to abortion. The bill would require the federal government of each state to recognize all marriages which were legal when performed, even when done in other states. It will not, however, codify the 2015 Supreme Court act, Obergefell v Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal throughout the US.
The Respect for Marriage Act would also protect interracial marriages. Although if allowed by the Supreme Court, states will still be able to block same-sex marriages and interracial marriages from being performed, the bill ensures that states would be required to recognise all legal marriages regardless of “sex, ethnicity, or national origin”.
Senator Chuck Schumer stated after the bill was passed: “Today the long but inexorable march towards greater equality advances forward. By passing this bill, the Senate is sending a message that every American needs to hear: no matter who you are or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law”.
Pete Buttigieg, US transportation secretary, said on Twitter: “Strange feeling, to see something as basic and as personal as the durability of your marriage come up for debate on the Senate Floor. But I am hopeful that they will act to protect millions of families, including ours, and appreciate all that has gone into preparing this important legislation to move forward.”
As for the general public, support has reached a historic peak of about 70%. Nonetheless, the Movement Advancement Project declared that if the Supreme Court did overturn Obergefell v Hodges, a minimum of 29 states would be able to enforce bans.
The US president Joe Biden also made an statement on Tuesday, thanking senators for their achievement and communicating his support of same-sex marriage. “For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections which LGBTQ+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled. It will also ensure that, for generations to follow, LGBTQ+ youth will grow up knowing that they too can lead full, happy lives abd build families of their own.” he said, adding “[...] I will promptly and proudly sign it [the bill] into law”.
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