Nadler Floor Statement for the Respect for Marriage Act
Washington, July 19, 2022
Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler today delivered the following remarks, as prepared, on the House floor in support of the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404):
“Over the past several decades, millions of LGBTQ people in loving and supportive relationships have married and formed families, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that the Constitution protects marriage equality.
“An estimated two million children are being raised by LGBTQ families today. An enormous body of research shows that stable and loving families are the foundation for children’s wellbeing and success, and children do best when their families have the critical legal protections to care for one another.
“Thankfully, marriage equality remains constitutionally protected, and there is no indication that it will be overturned in the foreseeable future. It is—and should forever be considered—settled law.
“Nonetheless, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—which extinguished the constitutional right to abortion—has raised concerns among some people that other rights rooted in the constitutional right to privacy may be at risk, notwithstanding the Court’s assurance that Dobbs was limited to abortion. This includes the right to marriage equality.
“In fact, in a concurring opinion in Dobbs, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called on the Court to reconsider its decisions protecting other fundamental rights, including the right to same-sex marriage. And, although Justice Thomas did not mention the right to interracial marriage, that right relies on the same constitutional doctrines as the right to same-sex marriage and, therefore, it could be vulnerable to a legal challenge in the future as well.
“Even if we accept the Court’s assurance in Dobbs that its decision does not call other rights into question, Congress should provide additional reassurance that marriage equality is a matter of settled law. All married people who are building their lives together must know that that the government will respect and recognize their marriages—for all time.
“The “Respect for Marriage Act,” which I introduced with the co-chairs of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, the chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, and the House Democratic Caucus Chair, Hakeem Jeffries, is an updated version of a bill that I first introduced in 2009.
“The first provision would repeal the odious Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA—the 1996 law that discriminates against married same-sex couples. While that law was ruled unconstitutional, it remains on the books, and it must be removed.
“The bill would also enshrine marriage equality for federal law purposes and would ensure that states give full legal effect to valid out-of-state marriages regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the individuals in the marriage.
“This legislation would provide additional stability for the lives that families have built upon the foundation of our fundamental rights. Congress must pass the Respect for Marriage Act to dispel any concern or uncertainty for families worried by the implications of the Dobbs decision. And it must pass the Respect for Marriage Act to enshrine in law the equality and liberty that our Constitution guarantees.”