Human Rights Campaign:
WASHINGTON The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization today celebrated the bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill passed 61 to 36, garnering a strong bipartisan vote with Senate Democrats and 12 Republicans voting in favor, marking a truly historic moment for LGBTQ+ equality as the biggest federal legislative win since the 2010 repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". This legislation will guarantee the federal rights, benefits and obligations of marriages in the federal code for same-sex couples; repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); and affirm that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states. It also codifies the same rights for interracial couples. The amended bill is expected to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by President Biden.
In response to the bill's passage, HRC President Kelley Robinson issued the following statement:
"Today love won. This is a historic day, marking a much-needed victory for our community. The LGBTQ+ community has faced ongoing deadly violence, legislative assaults and constant threats including the deadly shooting in Colorado Springs barely one week ago. Today, with the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate a historic moment that marks the first federal legislative win for LGBTQ+ equality in over ten years, since the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell the 568,000 same-sex married couples in this country can breathe a sigh of relief that their marriages will be protected from future attacks. The fact that this bill passed with strong bipartisan support earning the votes of 12 Republicans again demonstrates that marriage equality enjoys growing bipartisan backing, is supported by a wide swath of the American people and is not going anywhere. We are closing this discriminatory chapter of our history marriage equality is here to stay. And this is just the beginning we have more work to do to fight with and for our transgender community, , our BIPOC community, and our youngest community members with the same passion and energy that we brought to the fight for marriage equality."
These 12 votes demonstrate that even Republican lawmakers know marriage equality is and must remain law of the land. It also proves that marriage equality which the latest survey from Gallup shows seven in ten Americans (71%) support enjoys bipartisan popular support as a fundamental right that cannot be rolled back and must be protected.
HRC worked tirelessly to engage our members and supporters in favor of this legislation. We mobilized 242 major businesses with over 8.5 million employees, a grassroots army of more than 3 million members, supporters and volunteers, and the nation's 62 million "Equality Voters" to call on the Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. HRC supporters made more than 30,400 calls and sent more than 58,000 letters to Senate offices in support of the RMA. To read personal stories of why marriage equality remains important to LGBTQ+ couples across the country, click here, and to watch a video featuring a D.C.-based couple, click here.
More Than Two-Thirds of People Support Marriage Equality
According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. 55% of Republicans support same-sex marriage, along with 83% of Democrats and 73% of Independents. According to recent polling from HRC, 64% of people living in battleground states AZ, CA, GA, MI, NV, PA, WI, FL, NH, NC, OH, TX, CO, and ME support marriage equality, demonstrating the issue's popularity even in politically divided states. The latest survey from PRRI this year found that support for marriage equality has increased by 14 percentage points since 2014 (54%). Today, majorities of most religious groups favor marriage equality. White evangelical Protestants (35%) and Latter-day Saints (46%) remain the only major religious groups with less than majority support for marriage equality. According to the last Census, about 58% (568,000) of couples in the nation's 980,000 same-sex households were married and about 42% were unmarried partners.
Key Provisions of the Bill
The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that marriage equality is protected nationally through several provisions:
Repealing the 1990s era Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996, DOMA discriminated in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purported to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carved all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. DOMA was rendered unenforceable, in two stages, by the Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor v. United States ruling (which invalidated Section 3) and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling (which invalidated Section 2).
Establishing that "place of celebration" is the standard of recognition for federal benefits of a same-sex marriage. This provision ensures that the federal government will consider a couple to be married for federal purposes if the couple's marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.
Affirming that marriage-related public acts, records and proceedings of one state must be recognized by all states. Marriages, adoption orders, divorce decrees and other public acts must be honored by all states consistent with the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution.
(November 29, 2022) (Washington, DC) Today GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, responded to the breaking news that a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators passed the Respect for Marriage Act.
The bill will now return to the U.S. House for final passage before going to President Joe Biden, who has stated he will sign the bill into law.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded on Twitter and below:
"Today's bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the U.S. Senate sends a message of equal protection, dignity, and respect for all same-sex and interracial couples who want to share in the love and commitment of marriage. As so many LGBTQ people face uncertainty and harm on the state level and extremists on the Supreme Court vow to reconsider the landmark Obergefell decision, this victory will provide comfort and security to millions of people and their families. This vote also shows that our leaders, regardless of political affiliation, can get behind common sense legislation that moves our country forward and affirms all families. But our work is not done: Congress must bring the Equality Act to a vote, which would prohibit LGBTQ discrimination in nearly every area of life."
The Respect for Marriage Act will repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that legally married same-sex and interracial couples are entitled to the same protections and recognition from the federal government as all other married couples; and that those marriages will be respected in other states regardless of where a married couple lives or travels. Married couples are guaranteed more than 1,100 protections on the federal level that help keep families together, from spousal benefits to hospital visitation rights to acknowledgment on death certificates and more.
A bipartisan supermajority of Americans support the freedom to marry, according to a June 2022 poll. In addition, increased numbers of Americans are coming out as LGBTQ1 in 5 members of Gen Z now identify as LGBTQ.
The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in July by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME). It previously passed in a bipartisan victory in the U.S. House of Representatives, with support from 47 Republicans and every Democrat.
GLAAD previously joined 400 other organizations in a sign-on letter in support of passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the U.S. Senate..Earlier this month, GLAAD launched a new national digital and broadcast advertising campaign featuring a family that would be impacted by passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
Statement from Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Deputy Director of Equality Illinois, the state's LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, on the passage by the U.S. Senate of the Respect for Marriage Act:
The bipartisan vote by the U.S. Senate in support of the Respect for Marriage Act is an important step towards ensuring protections for LGBTQ+ families. We thank our own U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for their support of this initiative.
This bill (1) repeals the archaic federal statutory definition of marriage as one only between a man and a woman, (2) ensures that the federal government will provide equal benefits to all married persons, so long as the marriage was valid at the time and in the place where it was officiated, and (3) requires all states to recognize valid marriages from other states, regardless of the couple's sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. While the Respect for Marriage Act provides these protections against a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that erodes marriage equality across the country, this legislation would not stop a state from denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Still, we thank the U.S. Senate for acting to safeguard some of the protections of marriage equality in this country, particularly, ensuring equality in the provision of federal benefits for all married persons.
But there is much more the U.S. Senate can and must do to protect the right to privacy, bodily autonomy, and the liberty to form our own families without discrimination. We call on the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act, the Women's Health Protection Act, and the Right to Contraception Act, among other important bills. As more and more state legislatures, governors, and judges roll back civil rights protections and prohibit access to and criminalize abortion, gender-affirming care, HIV prevention drugs, and other essential healthcare services, the Senate must act expeditiously to enshrine enduring protections in federal law.
The bill now goes back to the U.S. House of Representatives for a final vote before the bill is sent to the President for his signature.
NCLR Statement on Bipartisan U.S. Senate Vote Passing the Respect for Marriage Act:
WASHINGTON, DC Today, Congress took a historic step toward legislatively protecting marriage equality in federal law for the first time in a bipartisan vote of 61 - 36 with 12 Republican Senators joining every Democratic Senator in voting aye on the legislation. This summer the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act with a strong bipartisan majority of 267 members including 47 Republicans reflecting the will of the more than 71% of Americans who support the freedom to marry.
A statement from NCLR Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon on the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act:
"Today's bipartisan vote in the Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act is a proud moment for our country and an affirmation that, notwithstanding our differences, we share a profound commitment to the principle of equality and justice for all. As we have seen time and time again, Americans from all walks of life support the right of individuals to marry the person they love, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or race. For the first time in our collective history, Congress has taken a concrete step to protect marriage equality in federal law.
Since our founding 45 years ago," continued Rupert-Gordon, "NCLR has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of LGBTQ individuals to create relationships and families, and we will continue to do so following the passage of this historic legislation. While Congress has taken an important step toward codifying marriage equality in federal law, it is incumbent on all of us to continue to push for passage of the comprehensive Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ individuals and our families from discrimination in all aspects of our everyday lives. Today we celebrate this win, tomorrow we continue to fight for the justice and equity that every American deserves."
In 2008, NCLR's Legal Director Shannon Minter was lead counsel for several same-sex couples in the landmark California marriage equality case. In 2014, NCLR won a lawsuit that allowed the first same-sex couples to marry in Miami-Dade County, FL. NCLR went on to litigate marriage equality cases in Alabama, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. In 2015, NCLR's Tennessee case was part of the historic U.S. Supreme Court victory that established marriage equality nationwide as part of Obergefell v. Hodges.
NCLR has played a leading role in advocating for the passage of the Equality Act, including serving as a member of the Freedom and Opportunity for All coalition (along with 16 other partner organizations) urging passage of the legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public accommodations (things like restaurants, hotels, and theaters), and jury service.
NEW YORK November 29, 2022 Lambda Legal today applauded the U.S. Senate's approval this evening of the amended Respect for Marriage Act. The bill now goes back to the U.S. House of Representatives for final approval and could be before President Biden for his signature by the end of the week. The amended bill, crafted by a bipartisan group of senators Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) had secured the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. The amended bill acknowledges the existing constitutional and other religious liberty rights to oppose marriage for same-sex couples and provides that houses of worship and certain other religious entities cannot be forced to provide goods, services, or facilities for the solemnization or celebration of same-sex couples' marriages. The amendment also confirms that the law cannot be interpreted in a way that would allow polygamous marriages.
Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings stated:
"Today the US Senate took critical action to protect LGBTQ+ families from the possible depredations of a rogue Supreme Court. By passing the RMA, the Senate has put in place legal safeguards that shield the rights of loving couples to form families against judicial overreach. We applaud this long-overdue step forward."
Lambda Legal Chief Legal Officer Jennifer C. Pizer added:
"Today we are witness to the imminent final erasure of the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has been an ugly stain on our federal statute books since 1996. Key parts of that hurtful law haven't been enforceable since 2013 thanks to our prior, much more fair-minded U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling in United States v. Windsor. And state bans on same-sex couples marrying have been unenforceable since that Court's 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges decision. But even if largely dormant since Obergefell, those marriage bans still live on the books in many states. With the current extremist orientation of the Court raising concerns that Obergefell may be next on the Court's hit list, married same-sex couples have faced the possibility that their marriages would once again be recognized in one state, but not another.
"The Respect for Marriage Act addresses that concern. While not perfect, this legislation ensures marriages solemnized validly anywhere in these United States are valid everywhere in our country without government discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. We applaud the bipartisan group that understood the urgency and worked hard to find the path to mitigate the harms in case the Court were to take the outrageous, discriminatory step of erasing the fundamental right to marry. And because anti-LGBTQ discrimination remains widespread and harmful, we will need the Equality Act to follow the Respect for Marriage Act quickly into the U.S. Code. Now, we look forward to the critical protective step of the Respect for Marriage becoming the law of the land."