Respect for Marriage Act Passes Congress – Biden’s Signature Next

Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404), which will enshrine historic safeguards for same-sex and interracial marriages into law.

The legislation is important and timely after the Supreme Court’s dangerous decision earlier this year overturning Roe v. Wade, the longstanding decision that provided federal protections for abortion access. While the court’s decision did not directly target marriage equality, Justice Thomas expressed interest in revisiting cases that uphold these fundamental rights for American families.

“Love is love. Couples that are building their lives, families, and futures together should have certainty that the federal government will recognize and respect them. Ever since the Supreme Court’s conservative majority took away the right of women to choose if and when they want to have a child, many across the country have worried what rights could be taken away next.” said Rep. Suzan DelBene.

“This historic, bipartisan step will provide same-sex and interracial couples the same certainty and protections that all families deserve. There should be no second-class relationships in this country,” DelBene added.

The Respect for Marriage Act:

  • Repeals the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Although this law was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decisions, it remains on the books. Enacting the Respect for Marriage Act finally erases the discriminatory law from U.S. law.
  • Protects marriage equality by ensuring that for federal law purposes people are considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.
  • Provides additional protections at the state level by prohibiting any person acting under state law from denying full faith and credit to an out-of-state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the people in the marriage.

DelBene voted for the Respect for Marriage Act in July. An amendment to the legislation passed the Senate 61-36 on November 29, which the House approved Thursday. It now goes to President Biden, who has said he will sign the bill.

DelBene is also a cosponsor of the Equality Act (H.R. 5).