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Senators Postpone Vote on Respect for Marriage Act

November 15th, 2022

The U.S. Senate delayed a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act to protect same-sex marriage until after the midterm elections.
The U.S. Senate delayed a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act to protect same-sex marriage until after the midterm elections.

A bipartisan group of Senators voted to delay a bill that would guard the right to both interracial and same-sex marriage. Instead of voting on the measure, Chuck Schumer, who is the leader of the Senate majority, postponed a vote on the legislation until after the midterm elections. It was recently announced that the senate will vote on this important legislation as early as this week!

The Importance of the Respect for Marriage Act

The Respect for Marriage Act is a critical measure that offers certainty to a large number of Americans in positive and loving relationships. The measure, if passed, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which has been in existence for several decades. DOMA defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and prohibited the federal government from respecting same-sex marriages recognized under state law. It denied over 1,000 federal benefits to same-sex couples and allowed states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

While the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act in its 2013 decision, United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of 50 year precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade has alarmed many in Congress. Indeed, Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision overturning Roe explicitly urged the Court to overturn its previous rulings establishing the rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, and consensual sex between adults of the same gender.

After the Dobbs decision, Democratic legislators in the House and Senate introduced the Respect for Marriage Act. The act is a proposed bill in the United States Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and require the U.S. federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial marriages in the United States.

On July 19, 2022, the bill passed the House in a vote of 267 to 157. This outcome surprised many advocates by obtaining the support of 47 Republican legislators. Indeed, it was the most pro-LGBTQ vote in Congressional history. In the Senate, all 50 Democratic senators and 4 Republican senators support the measure, but the measure would likely require the support of 6 additional Republican senators in order to overcome a filibuster.

Commentary about the Respect for Marriage Act

In a published statement, the bill’s primary negotiators, who are both Republican and Democrat, commented that they have utilized common sense language that is respectful of both religious freedoms and the various beliefs of Americans while also adhering to the perspective that marriage is a realization of devotion, love, and family. While the act would grant federal recognition to same-sex marriages and prohibit states from not recognizing valid marriages performed in other states, it would stop short of requiring states to recognize same-sex marriage.

Human Rights Campaign, a group that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, has expressed dissatisfaction regarding the vote’s delay. The Interim President of the organization has commented that the Respect for Marriage Act is a critical, popular, and bipartisan measure, and the current absence of 10 Republican votes is discouraging. The President also commented that the Respect for Marriage Act must be voted on at the earliest possible time.

The Future of the Bill

The postponement marks a substantial change to the time frame expected for the legislation. Most notably, the measure’s GOP supporters are currently involved in ongoing conversations to obtain the 10 Republican votes required to end a Senate filibuster and ensure passage of the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has stated he is 100% committed to holding a vote this year, so now that the midterm elections have passed, it is very possible we will see a vote on this bill in the near future. Retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman, of Ohio, has a gay son whose coming out changed his mind on same-sex marriage, so he is working to gather additional republican support for the measure.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church’s Blog

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision substantially advanced same-sex rights in the United States. Since then, however, various setbacks to LGBTQ+ rights in the United States have occurred. The Universal Life Church’s blog is dedicated to documenting the most noteworthy cases concerning LGBTQ+ rights. Our blog does so in a way that examines opposing sides and describes manners in a way that can be easily understood by readers.

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