On July 19, almost 50 House Republicans joined Democrats to pass legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enshrine marriage equality into federal law, Axios reported.
The legislation, approved 267-157, is part of Democrats' response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas signaling rulings on marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights and contraception could also be reconsidered.
House Republican leadership did not tell their members how to vote on the bill, but is instead advised them to vote their conscience, a senior GOP aide told Axios. The bill has one Republican sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but none in the House.
"I first filed the Respect for Marriage Act over a decade ago. Since then, the fight for marriage equality has seen many highs and lows, but perhaps none more frightening than the current threat posed by Clarence Thomas and this conservative Supreme Court," said Chairman Jerrold Nadler in a statement Windy City Times received. "I, along with my Democratic colleagues, will not be idle bystanders while the constitutional rights and freedoms that underpin our democracy are shredded.
"Today's vote was about protecting the children and loving families whose whole lives rely on the constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will take up this bipartisan bill without delay and provide much-needed stability and certainty for the families that have been shaken to their core by Justice Thomas's concurring opinion in Dobbs v Jackson."
"NCLR [The National Center for Lesbian Rights] applauds the House of Representatives for removing the mean-spirited and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act from our nation's statutes," said NCLR Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon in a separate statement. "While the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA a decade ago, today's action by the House to repeal it sends a strong message that our nation must move beyond targeting LGBTQ people for political gain. In this moment of political polarization, it is heartening to see bipartisan support for the fundamental principles of equality and security for all families. We urge the Senate to follow suit and swiftly pass the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act and send it to President Biden's desk for his signature."
The Respect for Marriage Act now heads to the Senate, where Democratic leaders remained noncommittal on its future, Politico reported. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said he would personally support putting it on the floor, but wondered if there's enough time on the calendar. The Senate is set to go on an extended recess in two weeks and there are other huge party priorities to finish before then.