Human Rights Campaign Delivers Letters to Senator Toomey Urging Support for ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ as Senate Vote Nears

by HRC Staff

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe reversal, and with Congress considering legislation that will guarantee the rights and benefits of all marriages, HRC delivered letters from Pennsylvanians urging Toomey’s support for the Respect for Marriage Act

PITTSBURGH, PA—As the US Senate prepares to vote on the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act before the end of September, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) today brought the voices of pro-equality Pennsylvanians directly to Senator Toomey’s Pittsburgh office, delivering more than 1,500 letters urging the Senator to vote “yes” on the legislation to codify the right of same-sex and interracial couples to marry. The bill 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 Toomey is undecided on the bill.

The letter delivery builds on growing momentum, as HRC has mobilized 220+ businesses in support of the bill, which passed the House in a vote of 267-157, with 47 Republicans voting in favor. This week, 400 Republicans leaders from across the country, called on the Senate to pass legislation that enshrines same-sex marriage protections. The Senate will now need 60 votes in favor, in order to overcome a filibuster. According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. Twelve of Pennsylvania’s 18 Congressmembers voted in favor of the bill.

Human Rights Campaign Pennsylvania State Director Ryan Matthews said:

“Amid a groundswell of grassroots, corporate, and bipartisan support for marriage equality, Senator Toomey’s constituents are asking him to side with the 71% of Americans and 69% of Pennsylvanians who recognize that LGBTQ+ people are worthy and deserving of love and equality, and vote yes on the Respect for Marriage Act. With a Supreme Court willing to overturn decades of precedent, now is the time to finally codify the marriage equality and ensure that interracial and same-sex couples have the right to love and marry the person they love.”

Below is additional background information on support for marriage equality in Pennsylvania and across the country, as well as an overview of the key provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act.

A majority of Pennsylvanians are pro-Marriage Equality.

  • 69% of Pennsylvania residents support same sex marriage, according to a 2021 PRRI survey.

  • Pennsylvania is home to over 3 million Equality Voters, a voting bloc of demographically and geographically diverse people who are united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality. Equality Voters are younger, more racially diverse, and more female than the general electorate, they recognize and trust the HRC brand, and they are more likely to identify with issue-specific organizations than candidates or political parties.

More Than Two-Thirds of Americans Support Marriage Equality.

  • According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. 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.

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.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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