House Approves Respect For Marriage Act By Vote Of 258-169

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) again, sending the landmark legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk where it will be signed into law.
(image via Depositphotos)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) again, sending the landmark legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk where it will be signed into law.

The final vote was 258 to 169, with 39 Republican members joining every House Democrat in supporting the bill. One Republican, Burgess Owens of Utah, voted present.

The House had previously passed the legislation this past summer with 47 Republicans voting with all Democrats in favor of the bill. The Senate passed its own version last week (by a vote of 61-36) with an amendment underscoring protections for religious liberties in order to get the required 60 votes for passage.

The bill returned to the House so that added language could be approved. Here’s the moment the legislation was approved. Note Speaker of the House (and longtime LGBTQ ally) Nancy Pelosi saying, “That was emotional.”

The push to pass the bill began after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June. In his concurrence opinion, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas specifically recommended the high court consider striking down “demonstrably erroneous” precedents set by rulings like Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and ended bans in the states that had them.

Even so, several Republicans said today that they didn’t vote in favor of the RFMA  because they don’t believe it’s “necessary.”

The legislation, H.R. 8404 – known as the Respect for Marriage Act, officially repeals the hideous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996, which defined a marriage as the union between a man and a woman and denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.

This new legislation requires federal and state governments to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages. Should Obergefell be overturned, the new law wouldn’t force all 50 states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, only to recognize legally performed marriages.

The Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus released a statement celebrating the House’s vote on Thursday. “The Respect for Marriage Act is a bipartisan triumph and a testament that love will always win in the end,” said caucus chair U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).

“After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision and Justice Thomas’ alarming concurring opinion, it became imperative that Congress do everything we constitutionally could do to ensure that marriages across this country continue to be protected,” he continued. “Today, Congress did what needed to be done.”

Out Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) celebrated the news on Twitter along with others.