On Tuesday, November 29, 2022, the Senate passed legislation known as the Respect for Marriage Act in a bipartisan vote of 61-36, nine days after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado and almost exactly five months since the Dobbs Decision called into question other decisions from the court, including Obergfell. All of the Democrats in the Senate were joined by Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri; Richard M. Burr and Thom Tillis, both of North Carolina; Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia; Ms. Collins; Joni Ernst of Iowa; Ms. Lummis; Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both of Alaska; Rob Portman of Ohio; Mitt Romney of Utah; and Todd Young of Indiana, according to the New York Times. These same republican senators helped the act bypass the filibuster on November 16th. The bill now has to go back to the House, where it is expected to quickly make it through to the President’s desk, hopefully by the end of the year.
The Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, an act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. According to the New York Times, “It prohibits states from denying the validity of an out-of-state marriage based on sex, race or ethnicity. But in a condition that Republican backers insisted upon, it would guarantee that religious organizations would not be required to provide any goods or services for the celebration of any marriage, and could not lose tax-exempt status or other benefits for refusing to recognize same-sex unions.” It also doesn’t require that states themselves allow the marriages, just that those that are already married or who are married out of state will be recognized as such both by the federal government and by all states, regardless of whether they individually allow the marriages to be performed in them.
What is most surprising and encouraging about today’s vote is that it was supported by some Republicans, many of whom are “deeply conservative and libertarian-leaning ones,” according to the New York Times. Mitt Romney, R from Utah, was quoted by CNN as saying “This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress—and I—esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”
Chuck Schumer, Democrat and Senate Majority Leader, for his part, was emotional and “audibly choked back tears on the Senate floor as he described how his daughter, who is married to a woman and expecting a baby with her wife, had lived in fear that their union could be reversed.” According to the New York Times. He wore the same purple tie today that he wore at his daughter’s wedding.