From within our increasingly dystopian post-Roe landscape, the House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill to codify same-sex marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act was announced today by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:
“LGBTQ Americans and those in interracial marriages deserve to have certainty that they will continue to have their right to equal marriage recognized, no matter where they live, should the Court act on Justice Thomas’ draconian suggestion that the 2013 United States v. Windsor and 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges rulings be reconsidered or if it were to overturn Loving v. Virginia.”
The bill is a response to Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas’ declaration, in his Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, that the case left the right to same-sex marriage open to reconsideration by the court—as well as the rights to birth control and, in 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas ruling, same-sex sex.
“We should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.” (Real The Shining vibe on that last part, Clarence.)
Notably, Justice Thomas left out the civil rights case Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 trial that affirmed interracial marriages like his own.
As Insider reports, the Respect for Marriage Act would also repeal DOMA, a.k.a. The Defense of Marriage Act, “which prevented same-sex married couples from receiving marital benefits in states that did not recognize same-sex marriages and was ruled unconstitutional in the Obergefell decision.”
It’s a move that Queens-Bronx Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for in the immediate aftermath of Dobbs, along with a demand to abolish the filibuster that Senate Republicans will almost certainly use to try to tank the bill.
Ocasio-Cortez’s concern was echoed by Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case. “Justice Clarence Thomas, he clearly paints a target on a woman’s right to birth control and on same-sex couples, right to intimate relations in the privacy of their own home and on our right to marriage equality. So, opponents of LGBTQ+ equality, opponents of marriage equality and birth control will use that language to launch challenges to those rights,” said Obergefell, who’s running for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Regarding the Obergefell ruling, the reliably odious Ted Cruz said in a quiet-part-out-loud moment a couple days ago—”I think that decision was clearly wrong.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin refused to clarify his own position on protecting marriage equality in his state should Obergefell be struck down. In other unsurprisingly chilling developments, GOP Senator Mike Braun has thrown in for abolishing interracial marriage and Missouri is blazing a trail for Republicans to straight-up outlaw birth control. So Dems, and the ever-courageous Susan Collins, are hoping to stem the tide by enshrining marriage equality.
As New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez puts it, “It’s not often you can take Sen. Cruz at his word, but he’s speaking for all Republicans here and we must take this threat seriously. This is exactly where the GOP is headed next—an all-out war on same sex marriage and the 71% of Americans who support it.”
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