WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY), member of the House Judiciary Committee and Equality Caucus co-chair, introduced legislation alongside House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) to protect the right to marriage equality amidst threats from the far-right Supreme Court majority. In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Court to reconsider decisions protecting fundamental rights, including the right to same-sex marriage recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges and the right to contraception. In the face of these attacks, Rep. Jones and his colleagues are urging Congress to protect marriage equality. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal legislation that discriminates against married same-sex couples, enshrine marriage equality in federal law, and protect it from being undermined by state law.
"Justice Thomas' concurring opinion in Dobbs made clear that marriage equality is next on the chopping block," said Congressman Jones. "As the first openly gay, Black member of Congress, this fight is personal to me. I still remember where I was when the New York legislature passed marriage equality, and when Obergefell was decided years later. Progress must be fought for and protected. To protect fundamental rights, Congress must use its legislative powers. That's why I'm proud to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act today. It's past time for Congress to establish that marriage equality is the law of the land, and ensure Americans across the country can continue to marry who they love without discrimination."
The Respect for Marriage Act was co-led by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Specifically, the Respect for Marriage Act would:
Repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against married same-sex couples.
Enshrine marriage equality for federal law purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. This gives same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples -- which the Constitution requires.
Provide additional legal protections from individuals seeking to undermine marriage equality while acting under color of state law. The bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out-of-state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the individuals in the marriage, provides the Attorney General with the authority to pursue enforcement actions, and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.
Congressman Jones has led the fight to defend LGBTQ+ people's individual freedoms, which are threatened by the extremist Supreme Court majority. He has repeatedly called to expand the Court to restore balance and legitimacy to this broken institution, and recently urged Congress to strip the Court of its jurisdiction over fundamental rights.