Today’s Solutions: January 30, 2023

In a rush before the upcoming Republican takeover of the House of Representatives next year, the US Senate has successfully enacted the Respect for Marriage Act, which seeks to safeguard same-sex unions.

The bill must now be passed by the House, which majority leader Steny Hoyer predicted may happen as soon as Tuesday, December 6. Earlier this year, over 50 House Republicans backed the bill. In the Senate, 12 Republicans voted to override the filibuster and send the bill to a majority vote on Tuesday, which ended 61-36.

The Respect for Marriage Act

Although the Respect for Marriage Act does not codify Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationally, it does require states to recognize all marriages that were legal when performed, including marriages done in other states. States would be compelled to recognize lawful marriage regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” Interracial marriages would also be safeguarded.

Since June, when the conservative-dominated Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, same-sex marriage has been believed to be under threat. Then, hardline justice Clarence Thomas stated that additional privacy-based rights, such as same-sex marriage, could be reassessed in the future.

Public support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of over 70 percent, but if the Supreme Court overturns the right, the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, reports that at least 29 states will be able to enforce bans.

Everyone has the right to marry the one they love

Before the vote on Tuesday this past week, Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary, tweeted: “Strange feeling, to see something as basic and 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.”

Following the enactment, Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island, stated that the Respect for Marriage Act will “place the right to marry out of this activist Supreme Court’s reach,” and would reinforce what the American people already believe: everyone has the right to marry the person they love.

Pushing for the next level

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ & HIV Rights Project, emphasized the need for additional effort.

“For the last seven years, LGBTQ+ families across the country have been able to build their lives around their right to marriage equality,” he said in a statement. ” The Respect for Marriage Act will go a long way to ensure an increasingly radical Supreme Court does not threaten this right, but LGBTQ+ rights are already under attack nationwide.

Transgender people especially have had their safety, dignity, and healthcare threatened by lawmakers across the country, including by members of this Congress. While we welcome the historic vote on this measure, members of Congress must also fight like trans lives depend on their efforts because trans lives do.”

Presidential pride

On Tuesday, Biden, who as vice-president famously came out in support of same-sex marriage before the former president, Barack Obama, said: “For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to 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 and build families of their own.”

Senators were commended for their “bipartisan achievement,” and Biden stated that he “look[ed] forward to welcoming them at the White House after the House passes this legislation and sends it to my desk, where I will promptly and proudly sign it into law.”

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