November 30, 2022

U.S. Senate passes bill to protect same sex and interracial marriage

Susan Dunlap

U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. 2022

With a vote of 61 to 36, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act five months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Since the court overturned the 1973 landmark decision, LGBTQ advocates have expressed concern that the court would use similar logic to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. The court’s majority made the argument when overturning Roe in its Dobbs decision that the 14th amendment does not explicitly include a right to bodily autonomy. But since 1965, the court has ruled in various decisions that the amendment can be interpreted that it does.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion to the Dobbs decision, said the court should revisit prior court opinions that rest on the 14th amendment, including Obergefell v. Hodges.

The bill also protects interracial marriage. Both of New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján voted for passage of the bill and both were co-sponsors. Both senators are Democrats.

“Today, the Senate sent a resounding message to same-sex and interracial couples all across our nation: Love is love. Despite threats made by extremists on the Supreme Court, the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act will provide these couples peace of mind and certainty by ensuring that their marriages are protected under federal law,” Luján said through a news release.

Heinrich said through a news release that there is “still more work to do in Congress to safeguard same-sex couples and their families.”

 “It’s about time we provide certainty that the marriages of same-sex and interracial couples will not only be protected, but also given equal recognition across our nation,” he said.

The bill heads next to the U.S. House of Representatives before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk.