COMMUNITYFEATURE ARTICLES

RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT

By: Al Ballesteros

Last month, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level, with a bipartisan coalition supporting a measure that addresses growing concerns that a conservative Supreme Court could nullify marriage equality.

Forty-seven Republicans joined Democrats in backing the bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify the federal protections for same-sex couples that were put in place in 2015, when the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges established same-sex
marriage as a right under the 14th Amendment.

The support among House Republicans, although far from a majority, was remarkable in a party that for decades has made social conservatism a litmus test, and it suggested the beginnings of a shift in Congress that mirrors a broader acceptance of same-sex marriage as settled law.

The party’s leaders split on the bill. The top two Republicans, Representatives Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, voted no. But the No. 3 Republican, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, and Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the G.O.P. campaign committee chairman, were in favor. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming also voted for the bill.

The measure faces an uncertain path in the evenly divided Senate, where it was not clear if it could draw the support of the 10 Republicans needed to move it forward. But Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, declined on Tuesday to state a position on the bill.

House Democratic leaders opted to move forward with the bill after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning abortion rights raised worries about the prospect that the justices might revisit cases that affirmed same-sex marriage rights and the right to contraception.