Pro-Equality Missourians Pen Letters at Event Urging Sen. Blunt to Support ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ as U.S. Senate Vote Approaches

by HRC Staff

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, pro-equality Missourians took to pen and paper at an event organized at St. Louis’ Just John Club yesterday, making their voices heard and writing letters to Senator Roy Blunt urging the lawmaker to vote “yes'' on the bill.

The event, titled “Love Letters for Marriage Equality,” was hosted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and PROMO, and built on the growing momentum across the state in support of the legislation. If passed, the Respect for Marriage Act will guarantee the rights, benefits, and obligations of marriages in the federal code, repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and affirm that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states. Senator Blunt has expressed that he doesn’t have “any problem” with same-sex marriage, though he has not indicated any particular decision on the bill.

Courtesy AP
Courtesy AP

Support for this legislation and successfully pushing it across the finish line is critical to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ Missourians and all members of the community nationwide. It’s why we organized this evening’s event calling on Senator Blunt to support marriage equality, because every American deserves the opportunity to commit themselves to the person they love, to build a life together, and to create loving families. This is not just about family values, but our country’s values that we must live up to.

Lauren Everett, HRC Midwest Senior Regional Organizing Lead

Missourians from rural and urban communities alike overwhelmingly support marriage equality and the Respect for Marriage Act. When the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act with significant bipartisan support, it reaffirmed that freedom to marry is the settled law of the land and provided hope and clarity to millions of families across the country who fear attacks on marriage equality in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. Senator Blunt has a unique and urgent opportunity to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ Missourians by upholding the dignity and respect of our marriages and protecting our families.

Katy Erker-Lynch, Executive Director of PROMO
Courtesy AP
Courtesy AP

HRC and PROMO have held grassroots efforts across the state of Missouri, mobilizing the more than 400,000 Equality Voters in Missouri in support of the legislation, Equality Voters are a voting bloc made up of demographically and geographically diverse people who are united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality. These voters are younger, more racially diverse, and more female than the general electorate, and comprise more than 62 million voters nationwide.

Below is an overview of the support for marriage equality in Missouri and across the country, along with key provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act:

A majority of Missourians are pro-marriage equality.

  • 65% of Missouri residents support same sex marriage, according to a 2022 PRRI survey.

More Than Two-Thirds of Americans Support Marriage Equality.

  • 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples, according to Gallup. The latest survey from PRRI this year found that support for marriage equality has increased by 14 percentage points since 2014 (54%). Republicans are now nearly evenly divided over marriage equality (48% support, 50% oppose), while 81% of Democrats and 73% of independents favor marriage equality. Today, majorities of most religious groups favor marriage equality. According to the last Census, about 58% (568,000) of couples in the nation’s 980,000 same-sex households were married and about 42% were unmarried partners

Sen. Blunt is Undecided.

  • Sen. Roy Blunt: “I don’t have any problem with same-sex marriage, but I’m not sure – I want to look at the legislation.” [CNN]

Key Provisions of the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’

The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that marriage equality is protected nationally through several provisions:

  • Repealing the 1990s era Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996, it discriminated in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people — thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. DOMA was rendered unenforceable, in two stages, by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor v. United States ruling and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.

  • Establishing that “place of celebration” is the standard of recognition for federal benefits of a same-sex marriage. Under this provision, if marriage equality was ever to cease to be recognized in a given state, same-sex couples who travel to get married in another state – one where same-sex marriages are still recognized — would still retain federal marriage benefits.

  • Affirming that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states. Adoption orders, divorce decrees, and other public acts must be honored by all states consistent with the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution.

  • Codifying the federal protections conferred by the Obergefell and Windsor rulings. The landmark ruling stated that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional