By Kayla Ngai
On November 29, 2022, the Senate passed a bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, to protect the sanctity of same-sex and interracial marriage Amonumental bipartisan vote yielded a result of 61-36 with all Democratic members and twelve Republicans voting in favor.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (1976), many people were nervous about how other crucial legislations would be decided on. Rachel Martin, an American journalist, stated that it “raised questions about how vulnerable other civil rights laws could be.” However, this landmark occasion indicates that opinions on interracial marriage, especially same-sex marriage, have garnered more support over the years.
The Respect for Marriage Act would necessitate that every state recognizes same-sex and interracial marriages performed in other places, with one caveat. States do not need to distribute marriage licenses for same-sex marriages. Regardless, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, still advocates that this bill is “a big step forward.” He continues, “We all know that for all the progress that we’ve made on same-sex marriage, 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.”
Schumer’s statements are correct because there are other senators who opposed arguing that the bill goes against religious liberties. For example, Texas’ Republican Senator John Cornyn ( on November 28, 2022) believes that the Respect for Marriage bill “‘does not move the needle” on same-sex marriage and views it as a “scare tactic.” Cornyn’s points are circumstantial at best because religious liberty is a personal choice.
The ACLU defines it as “The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all.” This does not give anyone the right to force their own religious beliefs onto another. If your own religion is against same-sex or interracial marriage, that issue does not infringe on religious liberty because it is not everybody’s religion.
The creator of the bill, Wisconsin’s Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin (the first openly gay lawmaker in the Senate), wanted to make “a really positive difference in people’s lives by creating the certainty that their ability to protect their families will be lasting.” She revised the bill to attain more republican votes “by adding language making clear religious organizations will not be required to perform same-sex marriages and that the federal government isn’t required to protect polygamous marriages.”
Furthermore, discounting this bill, or the idea as a “scare tactic” is nonsensical. As mentioned above, the overturning of Roe v. Wade proved to the general public that (as Coryn puts it) “what has already been recognized by the Supreme Court as a constitutional right” can be easily revoked.
The Senate and Baldwin’s bill are trying to establish a foundation of protections to make it harder for the Supreme Court, or any others, to deny same-sex and interracial families their rights to marriage and community. It is a bill that will benefit many people in the future and help move towards a progressive outlook.
The next step is for the House to approve the bill and be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. According to CNN, the House “is expected to pass the bill before the end of the year – possibly as soon as next week.” I have high hopes that this legislation will be passed into law as the bipartisan vote shows social progression. Although several states are not required to grant same-sex and interracial marriage licenses, the Respect for Marriage Act’s necessitation of recognition is a big step in the right direction.