The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to codify the right to same-sex and interracial marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade — with one justice writing that the right to same-sex marriage should also be reversed. The final vote was 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining every Democrat in the majority. The chamber erupted in applause as the final tally came in.
According to ABC News, Notable among those conservatives was Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — in a break from her past stance on the issue, which publicly put her at odds with her parents and sister, who is gay. In 2021, Cheney reversed her opinion and said, “I was wrong.” (By contrast, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, voted no on the legislation Tuesday.)
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., kicked off debate on the bill — The Respect For Marriage Act — which would prevent state discrimination related to marriage based on “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” It would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The legislation, Nadler said, “would reaffirm that marriage equality is and must remain the law of the land.”
“Congress should provide additional reassurance that marriage equality is a matter of settled law. All married people building their lives together must know that the government must respect and recognize their marriage for all-time,” Nadler continued.
Concern among some lawmakers and advocates about the legal fate of same-sex marriage mounted after Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurrence in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, which reversed Roe last month. In his separate opinion from the majority, Thomas wrote that the court should next revisit its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, from 2015, which guaranteed nationwide same-sex marriage.
While the court’s majority took pains to note its decision to overturn Roe should not be seen as an indication of future rulings, Thomas’ separate opinion caused alarm among same-sex marriage supporters.
House Democrats have set votes on multiple bills to codify rights that were not spelled out in the Constitution but which were granted — at least for a period of time, in Roe’s case — by Supreme Court rulings.