The Capital Pride Alliance applauds the United States Congress for passing the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), which will enshrine into federal law protections for same-sex and interracial couples, as well as their families. States will be required to recognize same-sex marriages that were valid in the state where the marriages were performed. RFMA also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a Clinton-era law that denied same-sex couples federal benefits and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Key provisions of DOMA had already been invalidated by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).
This important, bipartisan legislation was passed with the support of all Democrats in Congress as well as 39 Republicans in the House and 12 Republican Senators who crossed party lines to vote for the bill.
This legislation was deemed necessary in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade last June. In a concurring opinion at that time, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the Supreme Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” including Obergefell, which granted the right to same-sex marriage throughout the United States. The Respect for Marriage Act is a critical first step to help preserve marriage equality in the event that the Court reverses its earlier rulings. However, it is important to note that the Act does not codify Obergefell into law, and does not require that states issue marriage licenses to same sex couples as Obergefell does. Currently, there are a significant number of states that still have existing bans on same-sex marriages written into either their constitutions or state laws.