The 117th Congress debates the Respect for Marriage Act


AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The crowd celebrates outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US.

Madelena Lapinski, News Editor

The 117th Congress debates the Respect for Marriage Act Debate over same-sex marriage laws continues into 2022 as citizens await a decision in the Senate after the House of Representative passed the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) in a 267-157 vote. This vote is the largest vote in favor of same-sex marriage in Congressional History.

In 1996, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited same-sex marriage on a federal level with the Full Faith and Credit Clause. This established that same-sex marriages legalized in one state did not have to be recognized in states which had stricter marriage laws. DOMA was repealed in United States v Windsor (2013), though some of those provisions have been deemed unconstitutional, leading to the introduction of RFMA in the 117th Congress. 

RFMA will bolster the legal requirement that every state authorize interracial and same-sex marriages, which were legalized in Loving v Virginia (1967) and Obergefell v Hudges (2015), respectively. It will also recognize these marriages on a federal and interstate level, repealing any laws which define marriage strictly as a legal binding of a man and woman. Further, it will establish that no marriage can be denied due to race, sex, ethnicity or national origin. By instituting federal recognition of any marriage that was conducted legally in a couple’s home state, same-sex and interracial marriages are guaranteed more legal protection and safety nation wide. 

When the RFMA Bill passed the house, 47 of 204 Republicans voted in favor. In order to pass the Senate, however, at least 10 Republican senators along with all Democratic Senators would have to vote in favor of the bill to protect gay marriage. 

In support of RFMA, Chairman Jerrold Nadler spoke in support of the RFMA and its importance, in light of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s urges against it. 

He said, “Today, we take an important step towards protecting the many families and children who rely on the rights and privileges underpinned by the constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. The Respect for Marriage Act will further add stability and certainty for these children and families.”

For now, the Senatorial vote will be postponed past November elections. If it is passed, the Respect for Marriage Act will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and secure marriage equality on a federal level.