Not that I begrudge the Senate and (hopefully) the House for passing the Respect for Marriage Act, which federalizes and recognizes same-sex and interracial marriages and, while they’re at it, repeals officially the Defense of Marriage Act, which, despite the Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago, was still technically on the books and could still be in effect if the Court reversed itself at some future date (like that could ever happen…)… it does not specifically bar a state from banning those types of marriages if the Court follows its lead in Dobbs and invalidates both Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia as Clarence Thomas indicated he’s more than willing to do. (Deep breath.) But it’s a step forward.
I have no standing – yet – in either the same-sex or interracial marriage cases. But millions of couples do in one or the other (including Mr. Thomas), and as Jonathan Capehart notes in the Washington Post, his marital status is still vulnerable.
As an out gay man in an interracial, same-sex marriage, I’m pleased the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which will protect my five-year-old union and ensure that bigots can’t invalidate my swirl of a marriage. I’m happy it will sail to passage once more in the House and that President Biden will sign it into law. And yet …
If the Senate really wanted to take a big step to protect LGBTQ Americans and our families, it would finally pass the Equality Act.
That’s the bill that would provide federal protection from discrimination based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. One thumbnail understanding of this legislation is it would protect a same-sex couple married on Sunday from being evicted, fired or subjected to any other indignity on Monday. At a minimum, it would give that couple legal recourse to try to right such a wrong.
The Equality Act passed the House last year, and it’s been sitting in the Senate ever since — a victim of the 60-vote threshold required by the filibuster. And if there is no action on it in this lame-duck session, the bill dies. Of course, there is a less-than-zero-percent chance the coming Republican majority in the House of Representatives will reintroduce such a bill. The party has made it clear it is more interested in targeting the Biden administration than in protecting LGBTQ rights.
I never expected Congress to pass the bill in the first place. That they had to give in to coddle the superstitious with their religious exemptions was not a surprise, given their outsized sway over the few and the furious. So, for the moment, we can breathe a sigh of relief and hope that some court somewhere doesn’t allow some Jesus-shouter to file a suit against the guys down the street because they make the Baby Jesus cry. And I also have eternal hope that I will, someday, find someone to marry, thus fulfilling one of my mom’s last wishes, and the state of Florida doesn’t have other plans for me.