Spanberger Votes to Protect Marriage Equality, Send Respect for Marriage Act to President’s Desk

The “Respect for Marriage Act” would Repeal DOMA, Enshrine Marriage Equality Into Federal Law, & Create Legal Protections for Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to protect the rights of same-sex and interracial couples in Virginia and across the country. This legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could be used in the future to threaten other fundamental rights — including the right to marriage equality. In his concurring opinion in Dobbs, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the Supreme Court to reconsider its decisions protecting other fundamental rights — including the right to same-sex marriage recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges. The right to interracial marriage also relies on the same constitutional doctrines as the right to same-sex marriage — therefore leaving it also vulnerable to a legal challenge.

Spanberger cosponsored and voted to pass the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine marriage equality into federal law for same-sex and interracial couples. The bill would also provide additional legal protections for marriage equality.

“The Supreme Court’s rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia have allowed millions of Virginians and Americans across our country in same-sex and interracial couples to marry legally. But the Dobbs decision cast a dark shadow over those rights,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud that a bipartisan majority of my colleagues voted to pass these protections and send this legislation to the President’s desk to make sure that marriage equality remains the law of the land. Enshrining into federal law the right of all Americans to marry the person they love demonstrates our commitment to protecting their constitutional rights.”

The Respect for Marriage Act would:

  1. Repeal DOMA. The Supreme Court effectively rendered the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) inert with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. However, DOMA officially remains on the books. The bill would repeal this statute.
  1. Enshrine Marriage Equality for Federal Law Purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. This gives same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to receive equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples — as the Constitution requires.
  1. Provide Additional Legal Protections. The bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out of state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals in the marriage, provides the Attorney General with the authority to pursue enforcement actions, and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the U.S. House by U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) and David Cicilline (D-RI-01). A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME).


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