Across faith and place, all of us deserve the freedom to live as our most authentic selves. And yet for many couples and their families, a recent concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas triggered deep uncertainty around federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.
In June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent around the right to access abortion services as a matter of personal privacy. Justice Thomas’s opinion indicated that the Court would consider curtailing other privacy-based rights such as marriage equality in the future. The ability to visit one’s spouse in the hospital, to care for children, and other aspects of marriage are too important to leave in the hands of the Court’s conservative supermajority.
The Respect for Marriage Act would provide legal stability for all married couples and families while preserving the robust religious freedom protections under federal law. On November 16th and 17th, 2022, Interfaith Alliance and partners met with nearly 20 Senate offices to urge them to support the Respect for Marriage Act. Late in the day on the 16th, the Senate voted to move forward with the legislation ro protect everyone’s right to marry who they love. Interfaith Alliance and its partners urge lawmakers to work quickly to enshrine marriage equality into law.
Amplifying Faith Voices in Support for the Respect for Marriage Act
Across religious traditions, we honor the common tenet that every person has inherent dignity and worth. And wherever we call home, we share the desire to care for our families with love and commitment. The freedom to marry who one loves is a matter of human dignity. Religious communities approach sexual orientation in many different ways and the First Amendment prevents the government from interfering in these teachings. The Respect for Marriage Act would be a step towards ensuring equal treatment under the law for people of all identities and beliefs.
The majority of almost all religious traditions in the United States supports marriage equality, no matter what some people in power may claim. During a press conference on November 17th, faith leaders across various traditions came together to send a unified message of support for marriage equality. Each leader drew on their own religious tradition and experiences to affirm the need to protect everyone’s right to marry who they love. Their powerful words made clear that LGBTQ+ freedom and religious freedom are complementary – not contradictory – ideals.
For too long, the Religious Right has positioned faith in opposition to same-sex marriage. The faith leaders who participated in the press conference and advocacy efforts debunk the Religious Right’s claim. Those leaders represent a variety of faiths and identities, which all united to fight for this common cause. They delivered an essential message to our lawmakers: people of faith support marriage equality.
What Would the Respect for Marriage Act Do?
Various religious traditions approach matters of marriage, family, and identity differently. This bill recognizes this diversity of belief while ensuring that same-sex and interracial couples are treated with equal respect within the public sphere. The Respect for Marriage Act would:
- Repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court rendered DOMA inoperative with its landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. But DOMA, restricting federal recognition and benefits to straight couples regardless of state law, is still on the books. The bill would repeal this statute.
- Require Federal Recognition of Legal Marriages. The bill requires that the federal government consider an individual 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 enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples.
- Guarantee Legal Marriages Are Given Full Faith and Credit. The bill also require states to give full faith and credit to marriages validly entered into in other states, regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the individuals who are party to the marriage.
Interfaith Alliance continues to work closely with partners on Capitol Hill and in the faith, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ equality communities to mobilize a broad base of support as the Respect for Marriage Act moves to become law.
Learn more about our efforts to mobilize support for the Respect for Marriage Act.