Marriage flag and US flag hang over each other and are flown over the US Supreme Court building. Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
The vote will hold off until after the Thanksgiving break, when the Senate reconvenes. Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Congress will delay a vote on LGBTQ and interracial marriage protections until after Thanksgiving

The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in July, is on hold until after both chambers reconvene after the brief holiday break.


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Marriage protections will need to wait a while longer for Congress to reconvene after the Thanksgiving Break, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said late last week. Proceedings are suspended until Nov. 28. 

The Respect for Marriage Act, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat serving his 15th term in office, introduced the bill in July in an effort to compel states to recognize same-sex and interracial marriage licenses, regardless of where the union took place. 

It’s the second time in a three-month back-and-forth delay for the bill. In September, Congress held off until the midterms concluded to move to a vote during a period of insecurity as to whether Democrats would successfully secure 10 Republican votes, the minimum requirement in the Senate. 

At the time, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat and one of the bill’s leading negotiators, said that although she needed more time to rally sufficient votes, she was “confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass the bill,” in a joint statement with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republicans Susan Collins, Rob Portman and Thom Tillis.

And indeed, enough votes were rallied to reach a minimum consensus after the midterm elections, expected to be a triumphant year for Republicans, although it was anything but, with Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and a single-digit disadvantage in the House. 

November felt promising, but an additional amendment — introduced by the same set of Senators who delayed the vote until after the midterms — delayed the bill further in asking that the bill didn't infringe religious liberties.  

Conservatives have expressed concerns over some of the bill’s language and hope to avoid its misinterpretation to lead toward unions of polyamorous and pedophilic natures. 

But the bill was in good company, the Senators reassured. 

"We look forward to this legislation coming to the floor and are confident that this amendment has helped earn the broad, bipartisan support needed to pass our commonsense legislation into law," the senators said.

Poised for a final vote, the bill voyaged safely to the Senate, but is now halted for a third time until the Thanksgiving break, after which the bill will undergo inevitable proposed amendments in the upper chamber, to then be sent back to the House for a final vote before reaching POTUS. 

The Respect for Marriage Act was a hurried effort, in some respects, following a historic reversal of Roe v. Wade, after a draft opinion was leaked to Politico via an unknown source, sending shockwaves after 50 years of a federal shield. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, a senior Justice and one of the court’s more conservative members, hinted at also revising the legal reasoning behind Obergefell v. Hodges, the case precedent that protects same-sex marriages in the U.S. 

Justice Thomas, in his own words, resisted the idea that the court’s ruling would apply anywhere but Roe, however, legal advocates and even Vice President Kamala Harris, expressed deep concerns about the Supreme Court’s unpredictability. 

The Vice President, during a White House briefing to address the Supreme Court’s decision in June, said the court’s “theory, then, calls into question other rights that we thought were settled, such as the right to use birth control, the right to same-sex marriage, the right to interracial marriage.”

But even as Congress makes efforts to enshrine same-sex marriage, critics say that codifying is much of a stretch, given that states wouldn’t have to comply with same-sex marriages occurring in their territory. 

The bill, insofar as it goes, simply compels recognition of said unions, a first step in codifying legal same-sex and interracial unions in the country, though it remains unclear whether further protections are parenthetical in Congress. 


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