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Pingree Urges Swift Approval of Respect for Marriage Act in House

Following Senate passage of bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) called on House leaders to urgently take up the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk:

“When the Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia in 1967 and Obergefell v. Hodges nearly 50 years later, those decisions should have forever cemented the rights of two consenting adults to marry regardless of the couple’s race or sexual orientation. But this summer Justice Thomas made it clear that the Court was coming for equal marriage rights next,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “That’s why it is absolutely critical that the House act swiftly to send the Respect for Marriage Act to President Biden’s desk. The civil rights of millions of married couples should not be put at risk by an overwhelmingly polarized and bigoted Supreme Court.”

The Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed and would guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. The bill would not require a state to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.

The Respect for Marriage Act:

  • Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.
  • Confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
  • Guarantees that this bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax-exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage. For instance, a church, university, or other nonprofit’s eligibility for tax-exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this legislation.
  • Makes clear that the bill does not require or authorize the Federal government to recognize polygamous marriages.
  • Recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection of marriage.

Pingree and the House passed an earlier version of the Respect for Marriage Act in July with bipartisan support. The Senate amended the bill to add protections for religious liberties, which passed by a vote of 62-37 on November 16.


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