WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, drawing the praise of New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.
In short, the legislation requires states to recognize the marriage laws of other states, but does not prohibit states from making their own marriage laws. While the bill does not enshrine the protections obtained for LGBTQ couples in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Obergefell v. Hodges, which mandated that states must recognize all licensed marriages between same-sex couples, advocates say that the Respect for Marriage Act would provide the same protections as long as same-sex couples become legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage under its own laws.
Due to an amendment to the bill, the next step is action by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill passed the Senate, 61-36.
“(This) vote is a monumental step forward in protecting the liberty of millions of Americans in same-sex marriages and interracial couples,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) “Legislation to protect the right to marry freely is long overdue and urgently needed. With this bipartisan action, all Americans will finally have the certainty that their marriages will continue to be equally recognized across all fifty states. Our laws need to reflect our values, and by passing this legislation today, the Senate upheld that commitment. I urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk.”
“Freedom is the foundation of the American Dream, and that includes a couple’s freedom to marry. (this) vote reaffirms that founding principle, and reassures millions of Americans that they can commit their love, joy, and partnership to whomever they love,” said U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “I hope that today’s vote sends a resounding message to our youngest Americans: that who they love should never carry stigma nor shame, and that love is celebrated at the highest levels of our American democracy. I urge the House of Representatives to act quickly so we can send this important legislation to the President’s desk.”
“I’m pleased that the Senate has now passed an amended version of critical legislation I helped introduce in the House earlier this year to safeguard fundamental rights for LGBTQ+ Americans,” said U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH-01). “I urge House leadership to bring this legislation back to the floor swiftly so that we can send this bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible and ensure strong federal protections for marriage equality. I call on my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to listen to their constituents and stand on the right side of history by voting to defend every individual’s freedom to be themselves, love whom they want to love, and marry the person of their choosing.”
The vote also received praise from Kenny Frasch, one of the organizers of the annual Manchester Gay Pride Festival.
“As good as it is that this one piece of legislation passed, we shouldn’t ignore that in 2022 alone more than 150 anti-trans bills have been proposed across the country,” he said. “The queer community is under a constant attack, so I hope people remain vigilant and informed as to what’s happening in their local legislations as well as at the national level.”