By Amber Nodes
The Respect for Marriage Act, which would offer federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, passed the Senate on Nov. 29 when 12 Republicans joined all present Democrats in voting in favor of the bill, according to NBC. On Dec. 8, the bill also passed in the House, gaining bipartisan support in a 258-169-1 vote. Thirtynine Republicans voted to pass the bill, along with all Democrats, according to CNBC.
The vote comes after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas indicated that Obergefell v. Hodges, which established same-sex marriage, should be reevaluated and possibly overturned, prompting the House Democrats to create a bill codifying marriage protections into law. The House will now vote on the Senate version.
On Dec. 8, in a statement, President Joe Biden said, "After the uncertainty caused by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Congress has restored a measure of security to millions of marriages and families."
Biden said he supports the measure and plans to sign it into law.
“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love,” Biden said in a statement when the bill was passed in the Senate. “Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”
In a statement about the sponsors of the bill, including Republicans and Democrats, Biden said, “I look 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.”
Gallup tracking polls show the public’s growing support for legal same-sex marriage, from 27% in 1996 when they first began tracking the issue to 71% this year, reports NBC.
Politico reports that negotiations took place over months to ensure that religious liberties were taken into account in the language of the bill in order to make sure supporters of the bill could gain the votes needed to break the filibuster.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported the bill after these changes to ensure religious liberty was added, including that non-profit religious groups would not be required to perform same-sex marriages and that their taxes would remain the same, according to Politico.
“We believe this approach is the way forward,” the Church said. “As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”
The bill does not require states to allow same-sex or interracial marriage; it only requires them to recognize any marriage done legally in another state, under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution, reports PBS. The Full Faith and Credit Clause allows for this by requiring states to recognize the records of other states.
The Respect for Marriage Act would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, according to PBS, which federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman. It also allows anyone who is hurt by a breach or violation of the law to take civil action against any organization, state, or individual that violates the law.