Human Rights Campaign Mobilizes Membership in Support of Respect for Marriage Act Ahead of Senate Vote; Notes Widespread Bipartisan Support

by Aryn Fields

As the U.S. Senate prepares for a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, the Human Rights Campaign is mobilizing its highly engaged membership, and the nation’s 62 million “Equality Voters,” to call on the Senate to pass the bill.

The Respect for Marriage Act is legislation that would nationally codify federal marriage equality by guaranteeing the federal rights, benefits, and obligations of marriages in the federal code; repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); and affirming that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states. The bill passed the House 267-157, garnering 47 Republican votes — proving that support for marriage equality is widespread and bipartisan. In the aftermath of Dobbs, it is more important than ever that we enshrine our court-protected civil liberties into law.

HRC is uniquely positioned to engage our members and supporters in favor of this legislation. We are mobilizing our grassroots army of more than 3 million members, supporters and volunteers to reach out to their Senators and encourage them to pass this important legislation. Additionally, HRC has identified 62 million “Equality Voters” nationwide for whom LGBTQ+ equality is a make-or-break issue that we are mobilizing in support of this effort through an aggressive outreach campaign.

Over only five days:

  • Over 20,000 HRC members, supporters and volunteers have taken action through either email or phone call to their Senators

  • Approximately 8,000 HRC members initiated calls to their respective Senators, including:
    • Over 550 calls in Texas

    • Over 450 calls in Florida

    • Over 300 calls in Pennsylvania

    • Over 150 calls in Ohio

    • Over 150 calls in Missouri

    • Over 150 calls in Indiana

  • Over 21,000 emails were sent to Senators by HRC members and supporters, including:
    • Over 1,500 emails in Florida

    • Over 900 emails in Pennsylvania

    • Over 900 emails in Ohio

    • Over 600 emails in Missouri

    • Over 500 emails in Indiana

HRC will continue to mobilize members and supporters in the coming days.

More Than Two-Thirds of People Support Marriage Equality

According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples. 55% of Republicans support same-sex marriage, along with 83% of Democrats and 73% of Independents. The latest survey from PRRI this year found that support for marriage equality has increased by 14 percentage points since 2014 (54%). Today, majorities of most religious groups favor marriage equality. White evangelical Protestants (35%) and Latter-day Saints (46%) remain the only major religious groups with less than majority support for 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.

NBC Op-Ed: Opponents of Marriage Equality Face an Uphill Battle

HRC Interim President Joni Madison published an op-ed in NBC THINK about how the bipartisan vote for the legislation in the House of Representatives demonstrates widespread support for marriage equality — and the uphill climb anti-equality opponents will face if they want to roll back this right.

Key Excerpts from Madison’s Op-Ed:

“There’s no way around it, we are living in a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people, for women, and for people of color. But our opponents will have an uphill climb if they want to roll back all of our rights. That was evident in the way the Respect for Marriage Act sailed through the House of Representatives 267-157 on Tuesday.”

In a rare show of bipartisanship, 47 House Republicans from all over this country — North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Florida, Texas, Iowa, and South Carolina — including the third-ranking House Republican, Elise Stefanik — voted to protect marriage equality.”

“That’s why a move like we saw on Tuesday was crucial. While bipartisanship in Congress may shock you, Republican support for marriage equality shouldn’t.”

“For now, the Respect for Marriage Act is in the hands of the Senate. I strongly urge senators to follow the example set by their colleagues in the House and vote to pass this bill to protect the rights given in Obergefell that so many same-sex couples rely upon.”

Editorial in The Washington Post and an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal Support Marriage Equality

The Washington Post editorial board and Ted Olson, who won the Obergefell case and was solicitor general under President George W. Bush, and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman in the Wall Street Journal, called on the Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act.

Key Excerpts from The Washington Post Editorial:

“Even though 47 House Republicans joined with Democrats to pass a bill on marriage equality last week, many assumed a similar effort in the Senate would be dead in the water. But it is not — and reasonable senators should do everything in their power to pass it soon.

“[This bill] comes at a particularly trying time for the LGBTQ community...right-wing activists and politicians are increasingly relying on dangerous rhetoric around sexuality in an attempt to stoke a culture war. Encouragingly, most Americans do not agree with them.”

“Passing the Respect for Marriage Act would be politically popular. It would also be the moral, just thing to do. In a time of intolerance and partisanship, we hope at least 60 senators will recognize that.”

Key Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:

“Congress should allay these concerns by enacting the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act has already been approved by a strong bipartisan majority in the House, and it should now be promptly passed by the Senate and sent to the president.”

“The Senate must ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally under the law. These families have relied on decisions affirming their right to marry and its accompanying protections: custody of children, healthcare decisions, right of survivorship, tax status, immigration status and more. It would be cruel and unconscionable if these expectations and committed relationships were undermined or extinguished.

Support for civil marriage is consistent with American values. Strong families and lasting relationships strengthen communities, and marriage is a fundamental freedom deeply rooted in the history and traditions of our country.”

Key Provisions of the Bill

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.

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