The Respect for Marriage Act Represents New Security for Americans

Hazel Marcucella, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, November 29th, The Respect for Marriage act—sometimes abbreviated to RFMA—was passed by the U.S. Senate in a 61-36 vote to now be dispatched to President Biden’s desk for signature. Initially, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives this past July, although doubts loomed whether there would be enough votes to pass the bill, and consequently, the Senate postponed their vote until ensuing midterm elections.

Regardless of factors such as sex, race, or cultural background, couples are provided a new sense of security.”

The Respect for Marriage Act, proposed following Roe v. Wade’s demise, enforces that the United States must recognize all marriages’ validity under the law without bias against race, sex, or ethnicity. Originally, the bill was rushed to be passed to provide security to endangered rights caused by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Specifically, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court should contemplate revisiting previous court rulings such as Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual activity and legalized same-sex and interracial marriages, respectively. After this information hit the general public, citizens were outraged. The majority leader of the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer, shared an opinion that resonated with many. According to the Washington Post, he expressed that “the rights of all married couples will never truly be safe without the proper protections under federal law. And that’s why the Respect for Marriage Act is necessary.” Essentially, The Respect for Marriage Act acts as an additional precaution to ensure that Americans regardless of exterior factors like sexual orientation, race, or cultural background continue to have the same marital rights as white, heterosexual, couples.

Furthermore, through this bill, past discrimination targeted towards same-sex and interracial couples has an opportunity to be revisited and acknowledged for the future. The Respect for Marriage Act is attacking past bigotry through annulling the Defense of Marriage Act, passed on September 21st 1996, that essentially forbade federal validation of same sex marriages. The act stated that marriage was solely defined by the union of one man and one woman. Moreover, the act legally allowed states to refuse to acknowledge marriages, specifically same-sex and interracial, that were permitted under the law of separate states. Now that the Respect for Marriage Act is in effect, regardless of factors such as sex, race, or cultural background, couples are provided a new-found sense of security. Shortly after the bill’s passing, President Biden celebrated, telling the Washington Post that the Respect for Marriage Act “[reaffirmed] a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”

Despite countless challenges within America today, as a nation we’ve largely progressed compared to decades ago. The Respect for Marriage Act needed dire bipartisan support, and by the end, it received it. As Schumer put it, according to the Washington Post, “America does move forward, although sometimes in difficult ways, and sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. But today is a big step forward.”

This article also appears in our December 2022 print edition.