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Sewell votes to enshrine marriage equality under federal law

With the vote in the House, the final bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Congresswoman Terri Sewell on Thursday voted to send H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act, to President Joe Biden’s desk.

This landmark legislation, which passed the House today by a vote of 258 to 169, takes several key steps to defend marriage equality: officially repealing the unconstitutional “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), upholding couples’ right to equal protection under federal law, and requiring states to recognize valid out-of-state marriages. 

“No American should be discriminated against because of who they love,” Sewell said.  “As the Supreme Court threatens to strip away more of Americans’ hard-fought personal liberties, I’m proud that this Democratic Congress is standing up for the dignity and equality of every American by sending the Respect for Marriage Act to President Biden’s desk. As the representative of America’s Civil Rights District, I will always fight for the equal treatment of all Americans under the law!” 

Since the Republican-appointed Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, right-wing extremists have set their sights on stripping away Americans’ basic personal freedoms. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the Court to reconsider its Obergefell decision upholding marriage equality.

The Respect for Marriage Act will take several steps to protect same-sex and interracial marriages:

  • Repealing the “Defense of Marriage Act”: While the Supreme Court has effectively voided DOMA, this unconstitutional and discriminatory federal law still remains on the books. The Respect for Marriage Act will repeal this statute once and for all.
  • Enshrining Marriage Equality Into Federal Law: This legislation will uphold married couples’ right to equal protection in all areas covered under federal law, such as Social Security, tax filings and veterans’ benefits.
  • Barring Discrimination By State Officials: This legislation prohibits state officials from denying recognition of an out-of-state marriage on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.

Previously passed by the House earlier this year, the Respect for Marriage Act was amended and advanced by the Senate last week.

With the vote in the House, the final bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

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The Respect for Marriage Act is strongly supported by leading advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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