The US Supreme Court has said that bans on same-sex marriage and inter-racial marriage are both unconstitutional. So why did the US Senate yesterday by a 61-36 vote pass the Respect for Marriage Act that protects what seemed to be already legal? It is because the overturning of the Roe v. Wade precedent that gave constitutional protection to abortions had created fears that the current US Supreme Court might overturn those other hard-won freedoms as well. Justice Clarence Thomas has openly voiced his disagreement with the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
All Democrats voted in favor of this bill, and it was supported by 12 Republicans. The House of Representatives will now have to pass a similar measure so that Joe Biden can sign it into law.
While the bill would not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage.
So, in the event the Supreme Court might overturn its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage, a state could still pass a law to ban same-sex marriage, but that state would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.
That is a good move. It is disappointing that 36 Republican senators voted against it.