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Protecting Equal Marriage

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 well-being and success. In addition, children do best when their families have the critical legal protections to care for one another. 

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court not only repealed Roe v Wade and walked back 50 years of precedent, but it also signaled that other rights, like the right to same-sex marriage, are next on the chopping block. As this Court takes aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by as the hard-earned gains of the Equality movement are systematically eroded. That is why last week I introduced the historic Respect for Marriage Act which passed the House with bipartisan support. 

The Respect for Marriage Act cements respect for married couples, which all Americans should support and value. In addition, the legislation provides additional stability for the lives that families have built upon the foundation of our fundamental rights. More specifically, it:

  • Repeals DOMA. The Supreme Court effectively rendered the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) inert with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell. However, this unconstitutional and discriminatory law remains on the books. The bill would repeal this statute once and for all.
  • Enshrines 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.
  • Provides Additional Legal Protections from Individuals Seeking to Undermine Marriage Equality While Acting Under Color of State Law. 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 authority to pursue enforcement actions and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.  

I first filed the Respect for Marriage Act over a decade ago, and I am proud that it is on track to hit the President’s desk with bipartisan, bicameral support. I thank those of my Republican colleagues who had the courage to stand up for children and families and voted to protect the constitutional right to marriage equality. I also want to thank and congratulate countless advocates across the country who have fought tirelessly for decades for marriage equality. They have never wavered and never lost sight of the goal, and, ultimately, this landmark bill was only possible because of their selfless determination and hard work.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler
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