The U.S. House of Representatives approved the “Respect for Marriage Act” Tuesday which would enshrine same-sex marriage into federal law.
The purpose of the bill is to repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which was passed in 1996 to define marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA also allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages approved by other states.
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The U.S. Supreme Court previously declared DOMA to be unconstitutional. But now Democrats are worried the Supreme Court could reverse that ruling at some point.
It’s all part of the Democrat-led response to the Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The high court’s decision sent the abortion question back to the states. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the final opinion.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas advised the court should also revisit other previous rulings including gay marriage.
Democrats have blasted Thomas’ opinion, arguing the court was set to strike down other precedents.
So their new measure gives federal recognition to same-sex and interracial marriage. It would provide legal protections for interracial marriages by prohibiting any state from denying out-of-state marriage licenses and benefits on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.
During debate on the bill, as several Democrats spoke of inequalities they said they or their loved ones had faced in same-sex marriages, Republicans talked about rising gas prices, inflation, and crime, including recent threats to justices in connection with the abortion ruling.
“We are here for a political charade, we are here for political messaging,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
“This is designed to divide the country,” said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). “This bill is a shameful effort.”
Critics say the interracial part of the Democrats’ bill is especially a charade because Justice Clarence Thomas is married to a white woman, and therefore Thomas and other Supreme Court conservatives would never take action against interracial marriage.
As CBN News reported, the House has already passed a bill in an attempt to guarantee abortions, prohibiting states from imposing restrictions on abortion. It’s also considering another measure to protect access to contraception.
Neither of those bills is expected to gain enough votes to advance in the Senate.
The “Respect for Marriage Act” gained support from dozens of House Republicans, passing 267-157. But it’s seen as unlikely to pass the Senate, which is split 50-50. While the measure has had support from left-leaning Republicans, it would need the votes of 60 senators to defeat a filibuster and come to a vote.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post on Tuesday it will be tough to schedule votes in the Senate on bills protecting gay marriage and contraception given the packed calendar.
“We have more priorities than we have time,” Durbin said.
The mid-term congressional elections are now less than four months away, and control of Congress is up for grabs.
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