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After failing to protect abortion access by codifying Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday completed the first step in codifying same-sex and interracial marriage with the Respect for Marriage Act.
“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” President Joe Biden said in a written statement. “For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled.”
He added, “… I’m grateful to the determined Members of Congress — especially Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis, and Feinstein — whose leadership has underscored that Republicans and Democrats together support the essential right of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples to marry.”
Although the Act doesn’t provide the same unilateral protections as the Supreme Court rulings that legalized same-sex and interracial marriages, it does safeguard against the total repeal of marriage rights by requiring states to recognize a marriage from another state.
For example, if the Supreme Court overturned Obergefell v. Hodges and enabled states to pass their own laws recognizing or banning same-sex marriages, an LGBTQ+ couple in a state with a ban could get married in another state where it’s legal and be assured their marriage is still legally binding in their home state.
“For millions and millions of Americans, today is a very good day,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN of the Act on Tuesday. “An important day. A day that’s been a long time coming.”
“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied,” added Utah Sen. Mitt Romney in a separate statement to the news outlet. “This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”
In an email interview with Inman, LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance CEO Ryan Weyandt praised the Senate for its part in codifying same-sex marriage rights, saying it’s a “huge confidence boost” for the queer community and maintaining their homeownership gains.
“Marriage is one of life’s joyful moments and an obvious driver of home sales,” he told Inman. “As our community takes another step forward in never having this right questioned, it should provide the LGBTQ+ with greater ability to grow our 49.8 percent homeownership rate.
“It is a huge confidence boost that leaders in our Federal government are listening to the 70 percent of Americans who are supportive of same-sex marriage,” he added. “Senator Tammy Baldwin and her team of Senate leaders understood that moving forward required negotiating. Up until a few years ago, working together wasn’t a foreign concept in Congress.”
As the Respect for Marriage Act moves onto the House, Weyandt said there’s still more work to do on the state and federal levels to ensure LGBTQ+ people’s rights, namely the passage of the Equality Act.
“Our community has made amazing progress over the last 30 years,” he said. “We know we still have a long way to go in our fight for equality. There are still 29 states where we don’t have state-level protections against housing discrimination, and we are not protected under the Civil Rights Act or federal law.”
“I’ll say it again — there are no federal protections guaranteeing equality in public/private accommodations, credit or property rights. Diverse segments don’t have the privilege of gaining equity and equality overnight,” he added. “It takes years and years, decades after decades of hard work, dedication and perseverance. We’re here for the marathon, and we will run it until the end.”