WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today announced the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enshrine marriage equality for the purposes of federal law, and provide additional legal protections for marriage equality.
The Respect for Marriage Act is co-led by Equality Caucus co-chairs Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN, Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY); Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH); Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA); Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA); and Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
“Three weeks ago, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court not only repealed Roe v Wade and walked back 50 years of precedent, it signaled that other rights, like the right to same-sex marriage, are next on the chopping block,” said Chairman Jerrold Nadler. “As this Court may take aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by as the hard-earned gains of the Equality movement are systematically eroded. If Justice Thomas’s concurrence teaches anything it’s that we cannot let your guard down or the rights and freedoms that we have come to cherish will vanish into a cloud of radical ideology and dubious legal reasoning. 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.”
“In overturning Roe v. Wade, the conservative Supreme Court majority indicated it is willing to attack other constitutional rights, including same-sex and interracial marriage,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “In fact, one justice specifically noted that the court’s Obergefell decision confirming same-sex marriage should be revisited. Our bill would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act will protect same-sex and interracial marriages from any radical or bigoted decision that may come from the current extreme Supreme Court majority,” said Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “As Chairman of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, I want the LGBTQ+ community to know that this caucus is fighting for them and their right to live freely. This legislation will protect their marriages and ensure they continue to be recognized, even if a future Supreme Court overturns landmark marriage equality decisions. I am proud of this bill, and I urge Congress to promptly pass this legislation.”
“Marriage equality is a constitutional right that has been well established by the Supreme Court as precedent and this freedom should be protected,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “The bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act will enshrine and protect marriage equality and make sure legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized. I take great pride in being a part of this bipartisan effort to protect the progress we have made on marriage equality, because we cannot allow this freedom and right to be denied.”
“Maine voters legalized same-sex marriages in our state nearly a decade ago, and since Obergefell, all Americans have had the right to marry the person whom they love,” said Senator Collins. “During my time in the Senate, I have been proud to support legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, from strengthening hate crime prevention laws, to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to ensuring workplace equality. This bill is another step to promote equality, prevent discrimination, and protect the rights of all Americans.”
The Respect for Marriage Act would:
- Repeal DOMA. The Supreme Court effectively rendered DOMA inert with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell. This unconstitutional and discriminatory law, however, still officially remains on the books. The bill would repeal this statute once and for all.
- Enshrine Marriage Equality for Federal Law Purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. This gives same sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples—as the Constitution requires.
- Provide Additional Legal Protections. The bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out of state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals in the marriage, provides the Attorney General with the authority to pursue enforcement actions, and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.
The Respect for Marriage Act is strongly supported by leading national organizations including: ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.