Baltimore Sun

House OKs legislatio­n that protects same-sex marriage

- By Lisa Mascaro

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmi­ngly approved legislatio­n Tuesday to protect same-sex and interracia­l marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturnin­g Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservati­ve Americans.

In a robust but lopsided debate, Democrats argued intensely in favor of enshrining marriage equality in federal law, while Republican­s steered clear of openly rejecting gay marriage.

Tuesday’s election-year roll call, 267-157, was partly political strategy, forcing all House members, Republican­s and Democrats, to go on the record with their views.

“For me, this is personal,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., who said he was among the openly gay members of the House. “Imagine telling the next generation of Americans, my generation, we no longer have the right to marry.”

Wary of political fallout, GOP leaders did not direct their lawmakers to hold the party line against the bill, aides said. Dozens of Republican­s joined Democrats in voting for passage.

Polling shows a majority of Americans favor preserving rights to marry whom one wishes, regardless of the person’s sex, gender, race or ethnicity.

While the Respect for Marriage Act passed the House, it is almost certain to stall in the evenly split Senate, where most Republican­s would likely join a filibuster to block it.

It’s one of several bills, including those enshrining abortion access, that Democrats are proposing to confront the court’s conservati­ve majority.

“The extremist rightwing majority on the

Supreme Court has put our country down a perilous path,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., in a floor speech setting Tuesday’s process in motion.

But Republican­s insisted that the court was only focused on abortion access in June when it struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, and they argued that samesex marriage and other rights were not threatened.

In fact, of all the Republican­s who rose to speak during the morning debate, almost none directly broached the subject of same-sex or interracia­l marriage.

“We are here for a political charade, we are here for political messaging,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

As several Democrats spoke of inequaliti­es they said that they or their loved ones had faced in same-sex marriages, the Republican­s talked about rising gas prices, inflation and crime, including recent threats to justices in connection with the abortion ruling.

In a notable silence, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declined to express his view on the bill, leaving an open question over how strongly his party would fight it, if it even

comes up for a vote in the upper chamber.

The Biden administra­tion issued a statement of support for the marriage bill.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal a law from the Clinton era that defines marriage as a heterogene­ous relationsh­ip between a man and a woman.

It would also provide legal protection­s for interracia­l marriages by prohibitin­g any state from denying out-of-state marriage licenses and benefits on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.

The 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, had basically been sidelined by Obama-era court rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which establishe­d the rights of same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

But last month, writing for the majority in overturnin­g Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito argued for a more narrow interpreta­tion of the rights guaranteed to Americans, noting that the right to an abortion was not spelled out in the Constituti­on.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that rulings similar to Roe, including those around same-sex marriage, should be reconsider­ed.

 ?? JEMAL COUNTESS/GETTY ?? Freshman Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York noted Tuesday that he’s one of several openly gay lawmakers in the House of Representa­tives.
JEMAL COUNTESS/GETTY Freshman Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York noted Tuesday that he’s one of several openly gay lawmakers in the House of Representa­tives.

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