The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act Tuesday afternoon in a 61-36 vote, after easily defeating three trollish Republican amendments. The legislation will provide federal protections to same-sex and interracial marriages—that is, once the House passes it again, because the Senate made changes in order to get bipartisan support that added a lot of redundant and superfluous “religious freedom” stuff.
The new law will repeal the horrible 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined a marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman, allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and to discriminate against those couples. With DOMA still lurking, held at abeyance by a couple of Supreme Court decisions that are in jeopardy of being overturned, the protections for same-sex couples’ unions were threatened when it comes to things like adoption, wills, health insurance, financial arrangements—all sorts of daily life issues that heterosexual couples take for granted.
One of the key things that RFMA will put into law is the many federal protections that only exist by executive order. Former President Barack Obama extended those protections across a range of federal programs, including health care, immigration, labor, military service, and Social Security. Those protections could easily have been rescinded by a Republican president. That can’t happen now. Or at least, not after the House passes it, which could happen “as soon as Tuesday” of next week, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
RELATED: Senate Republicans are going to finally have to vote on marriage equality
What the law won’t—and couldn’t—really do is force individual states to license same-sex marriage, should the Supreme Court decide to overturn their previous Obergefell decision. States could refuse to provide marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples, but would have to recognize and afford full rights to couples who married in other states. This part of the RFMA acknowledges long-standing Supreme Court precedent that prohibits the federal government from forcing, or “commandeering” states to pass statues or enforce federal laws. Should the law have tried to do that, it would have been challenged and undoubtedly struck down by this SCOTUS.
The RFMA protects any “right or claim arising from such a marriage.” In other words: children, whether through adoption, or conception with a donor, or surrogacy. The law would require that states honor couples’ parentage of children born into the marriage. Because same-sex adoption has become yet another cultural flashpoint on the right, protecting the rights of parents is critical.
In terms of religious liberty stuff, and there’s a lot of it in the bill, it just reiterates the status quo. Just as a rabbi isn’t required to perform a marriage of gentiles, or a Catholic priest a marriage between Hindis, religious officiants wouldn’t be forced to marry same-sex couples. To make certain members of the Republican conference happy, it says specifically that by ending the definition of marriage in DOMA—one man and one woman—Congress isn’t saying that polygamous marriages are okay. Which is also totally unnecessary because it is illegal in every state.
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Cornyn says the quiet part out loud on marriage vote delay: ‘I can’t imagine anybody’s undecided’
How do we know marriage equality is at risk? Because right-wing propagandists are claiming it's safe
The Republican Party continues to flail and point fingers at one another. The traditional media pretends it did not completely blow it on predicting a “Red Wave” a few weeks ago. On today’s episode Markos is joined by Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that these midterms were closer than was being reported. The two do a little gloating about being right in their optimism coming into the 2022 midterm elections and they give their analysis on why Democratic candidates were successful and how terrified the Republican Party is going into 2024.