On Tuesday, in a 61-36 vote, the US Senate passed legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights with support on both sides.
The legislation, known as the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), would repeal the 1996 Defense Against Marriage Act which neglected to recognize same-sex marriages in all states and defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. The repeal would alter the legislation to include same-sex marriage and would require all states to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.
As LGBTQIA+ hate crimes and legislation rise in the United States, with the overturning of Roe V. Wade in June sparking concerns gay marriage could be next, the piece of legislation had been on the Senate’s Agenda for several months now.
Gay rights in America: How it all began?
The push for gay marriage rights started back in 1969 during the Stonewall riots, also known as the modern American gay rights movement. A few decades later, in the 1990s, efforts to legalize gay marriage in the country began to emerge. However, in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law, defining marriage as only the union between a man and woman — effectively and completely defiling same-sex couples’ right to marriage.
Despite the challenges, gay marriage rights continued to progress in 2003 after the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in the Lawerence v. Texas decision. The same year, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage.
A decade later in 2013, Edith Windsor challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, which resulted in the Supreme Court striking down the piece of legislation, ruling it to be unconstitutional.
Yet the turning point for gay marriage rights in America wouldn’t be until two years later in the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court case.
In 2013, James Obergefell and John Arther James were married in Maryland, despite living in Ohio. Unfortunately, due to a terminal illness, Arther died several months later. Under Ohio law, the plaintiffs believed Arthur would not be recognized as Obergefell’s legally married spouse on his death certificate and filed a lawsuit against the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Eventually, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right in the United States and required all states to recognize gay marriage as legally binding.
RMA to protect gay marriage rights
For months, negotiations over the RMA took place in the Senate, with Democrats pestering Republicans for their support of the bill.
After Roe V. Wade was overturned, Democratic senators knew they needed to gain the support of their fellow colleagues. As a result, Senators Tammy Baldwin (Wis), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Thom Tillis (N.C) set out on a mission to convince their Republican colleagues to support the bill.
In doing so, Wisconsin’s Baldwin was shocked by the amount of senators in support of a piece of legislation after the Obergefell decision, specifically because many stated they know or have gay persons in their family.
“I have so many colleagues who have friends, relatives, staff members who are gay and married,” said Baldwin. “So there are a lot more people based on those relationships who want to get to yes. And again, those were really moving conversations.”
Nevertheless, many Republicans still had concerns about things included in the bill, particularly whether the federal government would recognize polyamorous couples. Others were concerned it could affect adoption agencies or harm religious-affiliated colleges and institutions.
Despite the concerns, Democrats convinced 12 Republican colleagues to break the filibuster and pass the RMA.
Now, the RMA will go onto the House and, if passed there, will land on the President’s desk for the final signature.
When in effect, the RMA will repeal the once Defense Against Marriage Act to include same-sex marriage and will solidify the right to gay marriage in all 50 states.
However, one thing the bill still fails to guarantee is the right of states to license same-sex marriage.
LGBTQIA+ hate in the US and across the world still rampant
Just over two weeks ago, the US experienced its latest LGBTQIA+ hate crime and its 601st mass shooting in 2022.
On November 19, the tail end of Transgender Awareness Week, a 22-year-old shooter walked into Club Q, the only gay club in the conservative town of Colorado Springs, and fired a AR-15-style rifle and handgun into a crowd of happy clubgoers. As a result of the mass shooting, five people would die and over a dozen would be injured.
Many blamed the event on LGBTQIA + hate legislation and restrictions spreading across the country over the last two years, particularly toward the transgender community.
“We deserve to live.” Pulse nightclub mass shooting survivor, Brandon Wolf, has a few things to say to “right-wing grifters, including politicians like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott”. (Video: MSNBC) pic.twitter.com/FnLNjxO051
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 22, 2022
In August, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in North Texas passed several policies banning all classroom discussions of “gender fluidity.” The restrictions will limit how the education of race, gender and sexuality are taught, restrict transgender youths from using the bathrooms they choose and will ban certain books in the library that discuss anything to do with LGBTAIQ+.
In September, Texas also began investigating families with transgender kids as child abuse cases, the kids fearing they will be removed from their families for being who they are.
One family wrote to transgender Child Protection Service (CPS) worker Morgan Davis, who had come out as transgender nine months earlier, saying that they live in constant fear and that their daughter “has been traumatized by the prospect that she could be separated from her parents and could lose access to the medical treatment that has enabled her to thrive.”
To this day, several cases still remain open.
Other states have also implemented bans, including South Carolina, which enacted a ban on transgender kids from playing women’s sports, and Tennesse, where bills were filed to ban gender-affirming health care.
However, LGBTAIQ+ hate isn’t just being seen in the US, but all over the world.
On Wednesday, in Japan, a Tokyo court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage in the country. They later added that the absence of a legal system to protect same-sex families was against human rights, but this will not make a difference in the decision.
Although partnership certificates encompass 60% of Japan’s population, the ban was still upheld and will unfairly disadvantage same-sex couples from the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Yet, hope isn’t entirely lost as two cases on same-sex marriage are still expected to be decided, which could potentially push lawmakers to reverse the ban.
The law will prohibit Russians from promoting homosexual relationships or publicly suggesting they are normal.
The initial bill, passed in 2013, banned “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” amongst minors, but now extends to include adults as well.
LGBTQIA+ hate is growing rampant across the globe as new legislation restricting the community’s rights becomes increasingly present and as hate crimes occur more frequently. The Senate’s support for same-sex marriage is certainly a win, yet, clearly, LGBTAIQ+ people are still far from enjoying equality.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Dublin pride parade on June 25, 2016. Source: Giuseppe Milo, Flickr.