Congressional Democrats along with several Republicans who crossed the aisle have sent the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature. In the process, lawmakers undercut the coming House GOP majority as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
RFMA directly contradicts what many Americans believe to be religious truth, and further federalizes an institution that numerous scholars think should be left to states to decide.
For one, the bill repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. This Clinton-era legislation established marriage to be between one man and one woman, and states were permitted to not recognize marriages that other states considered valid.
BREAKING: House passes the “Respect for Marriage Act.” It is unconstitutional because NO POWER IS GIVEN on the federal level to regulate or redefine marriage. I hope it leads to the overturn of Obergefell and gives the issue back to the states.
— Jenna Ellis 🍊🦅 (@JennaEllisEsq) December 8, 2022
Even though the 1996 law was found unconstitutional in 2015, it remains on the books.
While hanging onto their fleeting control of the House, Democrats spearheaded the bill’s passage with a 258-169-1 vote. Every Democrat along with 39 GOP representatives voted in favor, with Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) voting “present.”
The Senate version of RFMA sailed through with 12 Republicans joining Democrats in their approval.
It is clear that Democrats wanted to rush the bill through before Republicans gained House control in January.
But they are also attempting to head off possible Supreme Court action — this is certain. The push for RFMA began when the high court in June struck down Roe v. Wade.
Many on Capitol Hill believed that it was only a matter of time before the conservative majority turned their attention to the ever-shifting institution of marriage. There was some basis for this liberal fear.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that he and his colleagues should reconsider the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. Handed down in 2015, this decision enshrined the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
The new RFMA bill attempts to head off this possibility by requiring that states recognize gay marriage even if Obergefell is overruled.
No matter that Western legal and religious tradition recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman. The White House, congressional Democrats along with some GOP stragglers are turning that age-old precedent on its head, and in the process removing part of the underpinning of our society.