by Aryn Fields •
“For the First Time in Our Nation’s History, We Are So Close to Codifying Marriage Equality as the Law of Our Land—So Close to Ensuring That Every Family Will Have the Freedom to Love Whom They Love.”
WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate prepares for a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is mobilizing 173 major businesses representing over 5.3 million employees, its more than 3 million highly engaged members and supporters, 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 affirm that public acts, records and proceedings are recognized by all states.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, we are so close to codifying marriage equality as the law of our land—so close to ensuring that every family will have the freedom to love whom they love,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “When we rally our voices collectively, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. I celebrate the thousands of people who have picked up the phone or written a letter to their Senator. I thank the 173 businesses who have taken a stand and joined the fight for LGBTQ+ equality on behalf of their employees and customers, for whom this is entirely personal. When workplaces see and celebrate all families, including their LGBTQ+ talent, they ensure everyone can bring their full selves to work and have an opportunity to thrive. But the fight isn’t over yet; this victory is far from guaranteed; now we must come and demand that the Respect for Marriage Act is passed and signed into law.”
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.
Over only six days:
Employ more than 5.3 million U.S. based employees
Are headquartered across 25 states and the District of Columbia, with employees and operations in all 50 states
Represent a diversity of sectors, including banking and financial services, technology, telecommunications, entertainment, hospitality, retail, and transportation.
20,853 HRC members, supporters and volunteers have taken action through either email or phone call to their Senators
Over 600 calls in Texas
Over 500 calls in Florida
Over 300 calls in Pennsylvania
Over 300 calls in Indiana
Over 250 calls in Ohio
Over 150 calls in Missouri
Over 2,000 emails in Pennsylvania
Over 1,800 emails in Ohio
Over 1,700 emails in Florida
Over 1,500 emails in Texas
Over 1,200 emails in Indiana
Over 1,100 emails in Missouri
Over 170 Major Businesses Join HRC Sign-On Letter to Urge U.S. Senate to Pass the Respect for Marriage Act
HRC and 173 businesses released a sign-on letter today that was delivered to every Senator in the U.S. Senate urging to pass The Respect for Marriage Act. The open letter states that the company signatories value diversity and inclusion in the workplace and encourages Senators to federally codify marriage equality.
Key Excerpts from the Letter Below:
“Fairness, equal treatment, and opportunity are central to our corporate values because we care about our employees and the customers we serve. Americans from all walks of life, across demographics, geographies, and party lines agree that loving, committed couples have the right to be respected and protected under the law.”
“[This bill] will help to ensure marriage equality, eliminate confusion for employers and enable us to retain and attract talent. No person, including same-sex couples and interracial couples protected by this bill, should fear their marriage will not be recognized by the federal government or their employment benefits threatened.”
“Inclusive business practices improve our bottom lines and lead to more productive and engaged employees, increased customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, improved competitiveness and financial performance.”
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.
HRC is uniquely positioned to engage our members, supporters and business allies 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.
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 Windsor and Obergefell rulings. These landmark rulings 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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