November 29, 2022
The U.S. Senate has passed the Respect for Marriage Act with a bipartisan vote of 61-36. The House passed an earlier version of the Respect for Marriage Act with a strong bipartisan majority this summer. The amended Senate bill will now move back to the House for a final vote before heading to President Biden’s desk.
Mary Bonauto, GLBTQ LEGAL ADVOCATES & DEFENDERS (GLAD) Senior Director of Civil Rights and Legal Strategies, who argued the landmark Obergefell marriage equality case before the Supreme Court, issued the following statement:
“Today Senators on both sides of the aisle came together to ensure that married couples and their families will remain protected under law. In a time of escalating attacks on our LGBTQ+ communities, it is also important to see our country come together to protect fundamental rights. This bill solidifies what Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges affirmed, that people’s marriages are to be respected regardless of race or sex. As the votes in Congress attest, LGBTQ+ people belong and are part of our families, our communities, and our country. This is a critical victory on the road to the day when all people are fully protected from discrimination and have the freedom to make decisions about their lives and families.
The Respect for Marriage Act provides assurance to millions of LGBTQ+ and interracial couples that their marriages will continue to be recognized and respected by state actors and government agencies wherever they live, travel, or relocate. It removes from the law the stain on LGBTQ people from the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” and codifies what the Courts have ruled – that states and the federal government must respect validly celebrated marriages without regard to the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the couple. It has broad bipartisan support because Americans from all walks of life seek to support rather than disrupt family relationships for themselves and their loved ones.
We applaud the sponsors, including Senator Baldwin and Senator Collins, for working with people concerned both about marriage and family relationships as well as religious concerns to find a way forward. The bill is a critical backstop for marriage and families should there be changes to the law of the land, which is something we will fight. The bill’s protections and religious amendments are carefully stated to ensure that the Respect for Marriage Act supports the status quo of official governmental respect for marriages rather than being used to strengthen or diminish legal claims or defenses when there are conflicts involving religious beliefs and marriage. It also ensures that religious houses of worship, educational institutions, and religious nonprofits need not host a wedding on their premises, or provide goods or services, as is the case already with some state marriage enactments.
We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Baldwin and Senator Collins, who spearheaded this effort in the Senate, and for the commitment of Leader Schumer and the many Senators on both sides of the aisle who voted to support this important bill. We look forward to final passage in the House and to seeing President Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law.”