You’ve got to give it up to the Senate for working together to get something done. On November 29, the Respect for Marriage Act lived to see another day after a 61-36 vote. If you’re counting, that means that 12 Republicans actually reached across the aisle to protect same-sex marriage. The bill now moves on to the House before it can be sent to President Biden’s desk for signature.
The bill, which was introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), is a good first step to ensure the rights of all married couples in case the Trump-formed Supreme Court starts feeling froggy.
But there are a few things in the bill that should warrant a side eye. For starters, although the Respect for Marriage Act requires states and the federal government to honor legal same-sex marriages, nothing in the bill requires all states to allow those marriages to take place within their borders. So if the Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which granted marriage rights to same sex couples around the country, you can put good money on the fact that there will be states that will rush to reinstitute their bans. And all we have to do is look at what happened after the overturning of Roe V. Wade to see how quickly conservative states jumped on their chance to roll back progress.
The act also carves out religious exceptions that make it okay for nonprofit and religious organizations to not support same-sex marriage.
And of course, we can’t overlook the fact that 36 Republican senators voted against marriage rights for all. That list includes the usual suspects, like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Even if marriage equality isn’t your cause, it should be alarming that in 2022, there are plenty of folks in Congress lining up to roll back all of the progress we’ve mad--especially when we still have so far to go.