A bill that would finally repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act has miraculously made it out of the United States Senate and will soon be landing on President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law following a bipartisan vote on final passage that came less than a month after Election Day.
Its first version in 2009 was supported by former Republican U.S. Representative Bob Barr, the original sponsor of DOMA, and former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA in 1996. The administration of President Barack Obama also supported RFMA. Having been introduced in several previous Congresses, another iteration of the proposal was put forth in the 114th Congress in both the House and the Senate in January 2015.
The current version of the Respect for Marriage Act is H.R. 8404. It passed the United States House of Representatives back in the summer, but like many bills approved by the House, it has been held up in the Senate.
Not anymore, thankfully.
The roll call on final passage of H.R. 8404 from the Pacific Northwest mirrored the roll call on invoking cloture from earlier this month:
Voting Yea to Codify Marriage Equality: Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (AK)
Voting Nay Against Marriage Equality: Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT)
The twelve Republicans voting yea were:
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Susan Collins of Maine
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Mitt Romney of Utah
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Todd Young of Indiana
Republican Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania missed the vote, as did Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who is home campaigning ahead of the December 6th runoff.
All present Democratic and independent senators voted yea.
“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,” said President Joe Biden in a celebratory statement provided by the White House.
“For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled. It will also ensure that, for generations to follow, LGBTQI+ youth will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”
“Importantly, the Senate’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is a bipartisan achievement. 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. I look forward to welcoming them at the White House after the House passes this legislation and sends it to my desk, where I will promptly and proudly sign it into law.”
“Today, thanks to the hard work of Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and bipartisan colleagues, the Respect for Marriage Act is finally on its way to becoming law,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I had the honor to perform some of our nation’s first same sex marriages at San Francisco City Hall in 2004, where couples celebrated not only a joyful union, but the protection and respect of fundamental human rights.”
“The right to start a family and raise children. The right to be who you are, openly and proudly. The right to support the person you love, whether at a hospital bedside, a military deployment ceremony, or applying for citizenship.”
“Our Administration stands for the fundamental right to marry the person you love and live free from discrimination. The Respect for Marriage Act ultimately stands for a simple principle: all Americans are equal and their government should treat them that way. Today, we are one step closer to achieving that ideal with pride.”
“By passing the Respect for Marriage Act, the Senate has reaffirmed the right for all Americans to marry the person they love,” said Oregon’s senior U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. “At the heart of marriage equality is the fundamental right to privacy. It’s why I ran in support of same-sex marriage during my 1996 Senate campaign, and after becoming the first member of the Senate to openly support marriage equality, it’s why I voted against the cruel and egregious Defense of Marriage Act.”
“While marriage equality is the law of the land thanks to landmark Supreme Court cases like Obergefell and Loving v. Virginia, Congress cannot take any modern legal precedent for granted after the overturning of Roe.”
“It has an obligation to protect the individual rights of all Americans from a far-right Supreme Court majority determined to turn the clock back by decades. And today Congress is one step closer to codifying these rights into law.”
“Today’s vote is especially important with the frightening rise of hate speech and violence against LGBTQ Americans. There is no place for hate or intolerance in America. I stand with the LGBTQ community, and I’m proud to once again vote for equality and freedom.”
“There should be no doubt that everyone should have their marriages recognized, but after Roe v. Wade was overturned, I heard from constituents across Washington state who were worried that far-right Supreme Court Justices would rip away their right to marry who they love,” said Washington’s senior U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “That’s why this legislation matters and, today, we took a meaningful step towards protecting same-sex marriage at the federal level.”
“This fight is not over, though. Whether it is defending the right to same-sex marriage for all, pushing for same-sex veteran couples to have full access to spousal benefits, or fighting to protect all LGBTQ+ individuals from being fired just for who they love or how they identify — I will continue to work to make equality a reality. I am proud to be an advocate for Washington state’s LGBTQ+ community in the United States Senate and look forward to President Biden signing this important piece of legislation into law.”
“Nobody should face the gut-wrenching pit in their stomach with the possibility that some politically motivated Supreme Court justices might suddenly tell them that their marriage is no longer recognized,” said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
“But the right-wing activist justices have made clear they are eager to inject their preferences into the most intimate parts of our lives and have specifically threatened Americans’ marriages.”
“So bipartisan majorities in Congress are stepping in. Generations of Americans have marched, voted, organized, and raised their voices to move us closer to a more perfect union with freedom and equality for all.”
“My colleagues and I – on both sides of the aisle – have the responsibility to not just further legislation to ensure this reality for all Americans, but to do all we can to protect the existing rights that so many Americans rely on. The right to marry the person you love, regardless of gender or race, should not be up for debate.”
“Oregon protects marriage equality for those who call this great state home, and with the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, these rights will now be protected for all Americans in every corner of every state of our country. Protecting same-sex and interracial marriage means the right to love and marry whomever you choose will be protected regardless of the whims of an extremist Supreme Court.”
“While our work here in D.C. is not over, and we need to pass the Equality Act and end all forms of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, let us not miss this opportunity to celebrate. Love wins!”