July 26, 2022

Respect for Marriage Act

“The U.S. House of Representatives [last] Tuesday passed a bill protecting gay marriage rights… The bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled chamber by a vote of 267-157 with support from 47 Republicans, establishes federal protections for gay marriage and prohibits anyone from denying the validity of a marriage based on the race or sex of the couple…

“Under the House bill, states could still restrict gay marriage if the Supreme Court overturns its prior ruling [in Obergefell v. Hodges]. But such states would be required to recognize marriages that occurred in states where they remain legal.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left urges Congress to protect same-sex marriage in case the Supreme Court overrules Obergefell.

“LGBTQ+ families, including mine, have been dusting off our living wills and seeking legal advice to ensure we are as protected as we can possibly be in the event that our marriages are dissolved… Will we need to carry our adoption papers when we go to the grocery store? Our living wills when we go to see the Grand Canyon? Will we have to go back to filing separate state and federal taxes, forced by the legal system to deny the existence of our relationship in order to complete our required paperwork?…

“What's more, how will our child be treated as the kid of two moms in a country that is dismantling the careful framework we've built to support the changing landscape and dynamics of what it means to love, to grow a family, to support one another? Will our family be turned away, torn apart, bullied or worse? If those in charge are allowed to pick on us, to treat us as less than, what message does that send to my child's classmates? My bosses? To strangers we pass on the street? What might a future look like where our family is no longer recognized?

Allison Hope, CNN

“Congress exercises its constitutional authority to command nationwide uniformity under the [full faith and credit] clause. So, for instance, Congress has ordered every state to grant full faith and credit to a custody determination and child support order issued by another state. It took this step to prevent parents from kidnapping their children by absconding to a different state and relitigating a custody order against them… [The proposed law similarly] appears to protect same-sex couples’ parentage rights over their own children…

“Many states only acknowledge these rights because of Obergefell, which compelled them to give same-sex parents the same ‘constellation of benefits’ afforded to opposite-sex parents. So, for instance, a state must place both parents’ names on their child’s birth certificate and afford both parents the presumption of parentage; they cannot force one parent to ‘adopt’ a child conceived through assisted reproductive technology… Put simply, the RFMA creates a backstop to ensure that every same-sex couple can retain protections after Obergefell’s demise if their own state nullifies their marriage.”

Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

“[Right-wing commentators and politicians] will say that [Obergefell] is ‘settled law’ and point to Justice Samuel Alito's reassurance that the court will not use the same logic they used in Dobbs to overturn Roe v. Wade as if everyone who supports marriage equality just fell off a catering truck full of gay wedding cakes. Please. Every justice on the court said that Roe was ‘settled law’ in their confirmation hearing and Alito's comment had Roberts and Kavanaugh, the two conservatives who pass for institutionalists, written all over it. It's obvious which way the wind is blowing and everyone knows it.”

Heather Digby Parton, Salon

“There might not be an immediate threat to Obergefell, but millions of LGBTQ Americans fear their hard-won right to marry whomever they love could at some point be taken away. This bill would relieve that uncertainty and enshrine their rights in the future… More than 70 percent say same-sex marriage should be recognized, according to a Gallup poll, up from 27 percent in 1996. This includes 55 percent of Republicans. Passing the Respect for Marriage Act would be politically popular. It would also be the moral, just thing to do.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is generally opposed to same-sex marriage, arguing that marriage laws should be aimed at promoting child-rearing.

The right is generally opposed to same-sex marriage, arguing that marriage laws should be aimed at promoting child-rearing.

“We do not deny that committed same-sex relationships can and often do have much of great value: affection, mutual caregiving, love. Some same-sex relationships clearly exceed some opposite-sex ones in these important measures. But marriage as an institution, including its governmental dimension, does not exist to award certificates of worthiness on loving relationships. Love needs no license from the state…

“The reason [marriage] was considered the union of one man and one woman until just yesterday is because such unions, and only such unions, often produce children… The law never took a purely instrumental view of marriage, one that regards it as worthwhile only insofar as it yields children. But it did regard it as oriented toward child-rearing

“It aimed, in a way that grew less coercive over time, to encourage adults to arrange their lives so that as many children as possible are raised and nurtured by their biological parents in a common household. Same-sex marriage was not the first step away from this model of marriage. Many social trends and legal developments have weakened the links between sex, marriage, and child-rearing. But that weakening has generally been regrettable rather than laudable… Republicans should reject the [bill].”

The Editors, National Review

“To disconnect marriage from a transcendent obligation to children, and to make it rather an expression of individual romantic feelings, is to fundamentally alter its character. Straight people did that before gay people ever started asking for marriage rights. Nevertheless, people like me correctly understood from the beginning that [same-sex marriage] was a Rubicon moment in advancing the Sexual Revolution. However strained the connection between marriage and its traditional purposes was under post-1960s cultural change, there was still the possibility of reform. With the normalization of same-sex marriage, that ended.”

Rod Dreher, American Conservative

But “The reality is that there is currently one vote on the Supreme Court to revisit Obergefell, which we know because Justice Clarence Thomas was the only one on the Court who signed on to the idea of revisiting it…

“That’s because overturning it would raise issues that striking down Roe did not. As the Supreme Court acknowledged in decisions in both Casey and Dobbs, ‘reproductive planning could take virtually immediate account of any sudden restoration of state authority to ban abortions.’ In contrast, the reliance interests arguments are much stronger when it comes to Obergefell given that same-sex couples have already been making lifetime commitments for years based on the outcome of the decision. Unraveling the ruling is simply not tenable.”

Philip Klein, National Review

Some argue, “The issue, at least as I see it, has always been whether or not the government at any level should assume for itself the power to demand a permission slip (in the form of a license) and levy a tax (even if you call it a fee) for any two consenting adults to hold a private ceremony in front of friends and family that impacts not one other human being in the country and causes no harm… We should strike the word ‘marriage’ from the entire tax code. We should also repeal almost every law with the word marriage in it.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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