Amid much fanfare, President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law at the White House on Tuesday. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week by 258 to 169. The bill passed the U.S. Senate the week prior by 61 to 36 votes. The bill repeals the 1995 Defense of Marriage Act, which stated that marriage is solely between a man and a woman and denied federal benefits to same sex couples. Related: Respect for Marriage Act passes Congress: What it means for New Mexicans
The new law protects same-sex and interracial marriages by recognizing those marriages federally.
The U.S. House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that protects same sex and interracial marriage, on Thursday. The bill previously passed the U.S. Senate. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it. He has expressed his support, saying “love is love,” in a previous statement. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support, with 61 to 36 votes last week when 12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for its passage.
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.
South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, introduced legislation on Tuesday intended to create a federal 15-week ban on abortion with few exceptions. Senate Democrats and reproductive advocates and experts denounced Graham’s efforts to ban abortion at the federal level at 15 weeks gestation. If the bill becomes law, it would not supersede states with greater restrictions, but it would restrict abortion in states, such as New Mexico, where there are currently no restrictions on abortion.
While Graham’s bill would allow exceptions for incest, rape and maternal health, doctors in states with abortion bans already in place are often uncertain of what medically constitutes exceptions for maternal health. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that this bill takes away “American’s rights to make their own pregnancy decisions” and that it “is dangerous and needs to be defeated.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that “you can bet Democrats are going to fight this ridiculous attempt for a national ban on abortion from the GOP.”
In July the nonpartisan fact tank, Pew Research Center reported that 62 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In addition, 57 percent, or six-in-ten adults, disapproved of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
On Wednesday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she will designate$10 million in executive capital outlay funding next year to develop a new clinic in Doña Ana County. Lujan Grisham is directing the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to designate the $10 million in the upcoming 2023 legislative session for the new clinic. The New Mexico Department of Health will also develop a plan to leverage state resources to expand access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, to underserved areas of the state to increase access and decrease wait times at abortion clinics. Lujan Grisham’s announcement was a part of her second executive order on reproductive healthcare since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. The first order established that New Mexico would not cooperate with other state’s efforts to prosecute patients who travel to New Mexico and would protect providers who work in the state.
The Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that narrowly passed the U.S. Senate over the weekend, does not extend the federal Child Tax Credit. The federal Child Tax Credit, which became available to qualifying families through the American Rescue Plan Act, provided up to $3,000 per child per year for families with children under the age of 6. For families with children ages 6 to 16, the tax credit available was $3,600 per child per year. The funds could also be accessed monthly, instead of as a lump sum. Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the policy lifted over 30,000 New Mexico children over the poverty line.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday by a 228 to 195 vote that would codify the right to contraception into law, but its future in the U.S. Senate is uncertain. All Democrats in the House voted in support of the bill. Most Republicans opposed it, but eight voted in favor. HR 8373, would codify into law the right to contraception and the right of healthcare providers to provide it and information about it. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring dissenting opinion stating that all rights based on the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy, including the right to contraception, should be revisited by the court.
President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday to protect reproductive care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month. Amid cries among progressives that Biden should take steps to protect abortion with measures such as expanding the court or provide abortion on federal land, Biden said during a press conference on Friday that his authority to counter the court’s decision was limited. But he raised his voice in anger when describing a recent news story about a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel out of state for a legal abortion in Indiana due to a resulting pregnancy. Biden stressed that the U.S. Congress needs to pass the Women’s Health Protective Act to protect abortion care. The U.S. House passed the bill but Republicans in the U.S. Senate have filibustered it.
Earlier this spring, the need for financial assistance to obtain an abortion caused abortion fund provider Indigenous Women Rising to take a break so the grassroots organization could “catch up” financially. The need was “so intense” IWR almost ran out of money, Rachel Lorenzo (Mescalero Apache/Laguna Pueblo/Xicana), co-founder of IWR, said. Lorenzo, who uses they/them pronouns, said that the group is still on break. But when IWR returns to funding abortion patients later this month, the organization will return to its original mission of providing abortion care funding to Indigenous individuals. Last year, in response to the Texas “vigilante” law that prohibits abortion in that state after six weeks, IWR broadened its funding to include undocumented individuals.
A vote in the U.S. Senate to end the filibuster on the Women’s Health Protection Act failed on Wednesday. The Senate took up the issue originally in February when Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. To end the filibuster and allow the Senate to vote on the legislation, Senate Democrats needed 60 votes in support. With one Democrat siding with Republicans and a 50-50 party split in the chamber, Democrats lacked enough votes to try to hear the bill on the floor. The Women’s Health Protection Act would have codified Roe v. Wade in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s final decision on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban expected this summer.