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Democrats seek to codify federal protections for same-sex marriage, following a controversial SCOTUS ruling on abortion.

U.S. House of Representatives sides with marriage equality

With limited GOP support, the U.S. House of Representatives gives passage to the Respect for Marriage Act

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This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify protections for same-sex marriage. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) of New York, the bill’s sponsor, introduced the measure on July 19 with the support of 179 cosponsors, all Democrats. 

On July 19, the measure was put to a vote and passed on a 267-157 margin with seven members abstaining, a clear majority necessary to make passage to the Senate floor, represented by a bipartisan roll call.  

“Since I first filed the bill over a decade ago, the fight for marriage equality has seen many highs and lows, but perhaps none more frightening than the current threat posed by SCOTUS,” wrote Nadler on Twitter following the bill’s passage in the House.

Why it matters

The Roe v Wade ruling by the Supreme Court sent aftershocks around the country beyond severing a birthing person’s capacity to access reproductive health without facing punitive charges at the state level. 

Although the SCOTUS opinion, first leaked by POLITICO states that “[n]othing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” many have rising concerns about the court’s legal reasoning bleeding into other landmark rulings, such as Obergefell v. Hodges.

In his own majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the legal rationale for settling Roe could be applied to other landmark rulings, such as same-sex consensual sex, access to contraception medication, and gay marriage. 

Obergfell at a glance

The Obergefell ruling protects the right to same-sex marriage, and the right to a marriage license to be issued by any state, whereas the Respect for Marriage Act would cement this matter into law.

U.S. Democrats mobilize government 

With established cases put into question by further judicial reach, Democrats at state and federal levels are rallying to enshrine rights not included in the constitution. 

Democratic states, Pennsylvania among them, are struggling to block attempts to undermine fundamental rights in state legislatures, whereas the federal government’s steps may send a nationwide message. 

Many state-level outcomes will rely on the midterm elections, which could prove decisive for critical legislation regarding abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, and transgender rights. 

Marriage Equality under the law

Though a historic act for same-sex protections, it remains unclear whether or not the Senate will rally the necessary Republican support for the bill’s viability under the law.

The bill will need at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to be successfully codified.

 

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