Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal to Pass Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Right to Same-Sex Marriage
Earlier today, a bipartisan group of senators reached agreement on a package of amendments to the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) that ensure it will have at least 60 votes in the Senate, enough to defeat a filibuster. As I explained in a post on the original legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in July, RMA arose from fears that the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs presages a reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling striking down state laws barring same-sex marriage.
Section 3 of the original RMA bars states from denying recognition to marriages contracted in other states “on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin” of the parties to the marriage. Section 4 requires the federal government to recognize—for purposes of federal law—any marriage that is “valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.” It thereby negates a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
According to a summary released by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) deal announced today includes the following modifications to the Respect for Marriage Act:
•Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.
• Confirms that non–profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
• Guarantees that this bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax–exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage.
• For instance, a church, university, or other nonprofit’s eligibility for tax–exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this legislation.
• Makes clear that the bill does not require or authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages.
• Recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same–sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection of marriage.
Most of these modifications don’t actually alter the original bill in any meaningful way. For example, nothing in the original RMA in any way infringed on the religious liberty of churches and other private organizations. The bill only imposed obligations on state and federal governments, not private parties. Similarly, the original draft in no way threatened anyone’s tax exemptions or accreditations.
The exception is the polygamy provision. As I explained in a previous post, the original RMA would indeed have required the feder
Article from Reason.com