On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to ensure federal protections for same-sex marriage, reports CNN. The bill titled the Respect for Marriage Act was introduced by Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
With a vote of 267 to 157 which included 47 Republicans who joined with Democrats, the bill was passed with bipartisan support. It remains to be seen if the bill can leap over a major huddle in the Senate where at least 10 Republicans would need to break party lines and vote with Democrats to bypass the 60-vote filibuster. In the coming weeks, House Democrats will introduce another bill that guarantees access to contraception.
The bill was passed after Democrats expressed concern that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court could overturn federal protections for same-sex marriage and contraception in the future, after reversing Roe v. Wade in June.
Although Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the reversal sought to separate the abortion case from those other rulings, Justice Clarence Thomas expressed that other rulings should be revisited as well.
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to decisions on contraception and same-sex relationships.
While seeking to protect the right to same-sex marriage nationwide, the bill also guarantees federal protections for interracial marriages. The legislation states that “marriage must be recognized under federal law if the marriage was legal in the state where it took place.”
The bill would provide legal safeguards “for married couples intended to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin, including empowering the attorney general to pursue enforcement actions.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement addressing the importance of the legislation.
“It is critical to ensure that federal law protects those whose constitutional rights might be threatened by Republican-controlled state legislatures,” Hoyer said. “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.”
Writing a letter to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi viewed the bill introduced as a counter to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This week, the House will pass two more bills to protect freedom in our nation, as extremist Justices and lawmakers take aim at more of our basic rights,” she wrote. “Our Right to Contraception Act will preserve the essential protections found in Griswold v. Connecticut. Our Respect for Marriage Act – which, proudly, is bipartisan and bicameral – will defend the right to marry whomever you love, as found in Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia.”