WASHINGTON – The House will vote Thursday on historic legislation that would federally protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights. Passage of the bill would move it to President Joe Biden who is expected to sign it into law.
- What is it?: The Respect for Marriage Act, passed by the Senate last week, guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two people if it was valid in the state where they were married. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere, but does not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own law.
- Some Republicans support it: It passed the Senate 61 to 36 in November with a dozen Republicans in support. The House approved a similar bill earlier this year with nearly 50 Republicans in support.
- Biden expected to sign: If passed, the Respect for Marriage Act would head to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Nancy Pelosi: ‘Overjoyed’ that the vote on Respect for Marriage Act is one of final bills as speaker
Nancy Pelosi, who announced last month she’d step down from her role as House speaker, celebrated the Respect for Marriage Act in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday.
“I am overjoyed that one of the final bills I will sign as speaker will be the Respect for Marriage Act: ensuring the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love,” she wrote.
Overturning of Roe v. Wade spurred action on same-sex marriage
Lawmakers drafted the bill following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas expressed interest in reconsidering same-sex and interracial marriage rights in a separate concurring opinion that no other justice joined.
Pelosi took aim at Thomas in her op-ed Wednesday, saying “While his legal reasoning is twisted and unsound, we must take Justice Thomas — and the extremist movement behind him — at their word.”
What does the Respect for Marriage Act do? The bill just passed the Senate. What to know.
How does the bill address religion?
Some Republican lawmakers argued the bill would infringe on the rights of churches and other faith-based organizations, which could be punished for refusing to participate in or recognize gay unions if the legislation passed.
But senators added an amendment to the bill that left room for religious or conscientious objections. Bipartisan sponsors of the bill said the religious freedom language inserted in the amendment would protect churches and other faith-based entities from such infringements.
If the bill is signed into law, individuals or groups would not be legally required to provide services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if it’s against their religious beliefs. It also would not recognize polygamous unions.
More:Senate advances same-sex marriage bill that also includes religious freedom protections
Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Passage would put ‘fears to rest’
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay person to serve in the Senate, said its passage would allay the concerns of same-sex and interracial couples worried their civil marriage rights and recognition could be stripped away.
“The Senate has the opportunity to put those fears to rest and give millions of people in same sex and interracial marriages the certainty, dignity and respect that they need and deserve,” she said before the vote.
Story Credit: usatoday.com