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. Yet the ability for two people to join together in shared devotion is at risk as long as it remains dependent on the current Supreme Court.
As the Senate returns from their summer recess, lead sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 4556) are preparing for a vote in the coming weeks. The bill, which passed the House in July 2022, would protect the right to same-sex and interracial marriage under federal law. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, lead sponsors Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins note that “we all have family, friends, co-workers or neighbors who are in these marriages.”
And as Justice Clarence Thomas and others raise doubts about Supreme Court rulings protecting marriage, contraception, and other privacy rights in the wake of the Dobbs decision, Balwin and Collins write that “these partnerships deserve fairness and the recognition, stability and rights of marriage.”
The Respect for Marriage Act is a simple way to provide legal stability for all married couples and their families. 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. It makes no changes to robust federal religious freedom protections nor does it intrude on the religious practices of houses of worship. 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 is working closely with partners on Capitol Hill and in the faith, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ equality communities to mobilize a broad base of support ahead of the vote.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s work to advance LGBTQ+ equality as a part of our mission to advance true religious freedom.