WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House on Tuesday prepared to vote on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling would overturn Roe v. Wade’s access to abortion. jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservative Americans.
With a robust but one-sided debate, Democrats argued vigorously for the inclusion of marriage equality in federal law, while Republicans did not openly reject same-sex marriage. Instead, leading Republicans painted the bill as unnecessary amid other issues facing the nation.
Tuesday’s election year roll call was partly a political strategy, forcing all members of the House, Republicans and Democrats, to make their views known. It also reflected the legislature shying away from an aggressive court that has raised fears it might reconsider seemingly settled U.S. laws.
“For me, this is personal,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones, DN.Y., who said he was one of nine openly gay members of the House.
“Imagine telling the next generation of Americans, my generation, that we no longer have the right to marry,” he said. “Congress can’t let that happen.”
Wary of political ramifications, GOP leaders did not order their lawmakers to hold the party line against the bill, aides said. Dozens of Republicans were expected to join Democrats to vote for passage.
While the Respect for Marriage Act is expected to pass the House, with a Democratic majority, it will almost certainly stall in the evenly divided Senate, where most Republicans would likely join a filibuster to block it. It is one of several bills, including those enforcing abortion access, that Democrats are proposing to confront the court’s conservative majority. Another bill, guaranteeing access to contraceptive services, will be put to a vote later this week.
Polls show that a majority of Americans support preserving the right to marry whoever they want, regardless of the person’s gender, gender, race or ethnicity, a long-term shift in modern mores toward inclusion.
A Gallup poll in June showed widespread and increasing support for same-sex marriage, with 70% of American adults saying they believe such unions should be recognized as valid by law. The poll showed majority support among both Democrats (83%) and Republicans (55%).
According to Gallup, the approval of interracial marriage in the US reached a six-decade high at 94% in September.
“The far-right majority in the Supreme Court has set our country on a dangerous path,” Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., said in a speech that kicked off Tuesday’s trial.
“It’s time for our colleagues across the aisle to stand up and be counted. Will they vote to protect these fundamental freedoms? Or will they vote to let states take away those freedoms?”
But Republicans insisted on Tuesday that the court didn’t focus on abortion access until June when it overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling, arguing that same-sex marriage and other rights were not threatened.
Of all the Republicans who rose to speak during the morning debate, almost none had directly broached the subject of same-sex or interracial marriage.
“We’re here for political charade, we’re here for political messages,” said Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, the highest-ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
While several Democrats talked about inequalities they or their loved ones had experienced in same-sex marriage, Republicans talked about rising gas prices, inflation and crime, including recent threats to judges related to the abortion ruling.
Even if it passed the House with Republican votes, as it seemed likely, the outcome in the Senate is uncertain.
“I’m probably not inclined to support it,” said R-Mo Senator Josh Hawley. “The predicate of this is simply wrong. I don’t think the Supreme Court will destroy any of those things.”
For Republicans in Congress, the Trump-era confirmation of conservative Supreme Court justices fulfilled a GOP’s long-term goal to rethink many social, environmental, and regulatory issues that the party couldn’t resolve alone by passing bills that could. be signed into law.
But in a remarkable silence, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell declined to voice his opinion on the bill, leaving an open question about how strongly his party would fight against it, if it were even voted in the upper chamber.
“I don’t see anything behind this at this point other than, you know, election year politics,” said GOP whip, South Dakota Senator John Thune.
The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal a Clinton-era law that defines marriage as a heterogeneous relationship between a man and a woman. It would also provide legal protections for interracial marriages by prohibiting a state from denying marriage licenses and benefits out of state based on gender, race, ethnicity or national origin.
In fact, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was sidelined by Obama-era court rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which enshrined the right of same-sex couples to marry nationwide. a milestone for gay rights.
But last month, when writing for the majority to overturn Roe v. Wade, Judge Samuel Alito argued for a narrower interpretation of the rights guaranteed to Americans, noting that the right to abortion was not in the Constitution. fixed.
In a unanimous opinion, Judge Clarence Thomas went on to say that other rulings similar to Roe, including those surrounding same-sex marriage and the right for couples to use contraception, should be reconsidered..
While Alito maintained in the majority view that “this decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” others have taken note.
“The MAGA radicals taking over the Republican Party have made it abundantly clear that they are not happy with Roe repealing,” said Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., referring to Trump’s supporters.
He pointed to comments from Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said over the weekend that the Supreme Court’s decision to protect marriage equality was “clearly wrong” and that state lawmakers should visit the issue.
But Schumer promised not to vote on the bill.
Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage and now serves as a Democrat for the Ohio House, said after the court’s ruling on abortion“If we lose a right that we have relied on and enjoyed, other rights are jeopardized.”
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.