Respect for Marriage Act

Floor Speech

Date: July 19, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JONES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today because the far-right 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court is on a rampage against basic freedoms currently enjoyed by the American people.

In his concurring opinion in Dobbs, Justice Clarence Thomas gave us a heads-up that the Court is next coming for the ability of same-sex couples to get married.

I am one of only nine openly gay members of this body. For me, this is personal. I still remember where I was on June 24, 2011, the day the New York State legislature passed marriage equality.

I was living with my friends in New York City, but I was still closeted, and I was so afraid, still, that someone might find out the truth about my being gay.

So, instead, I closed the door to my room and cried tears of joy by my lonesome. Finally, my home State of New York had recognized me as a full human being, affirmed all of those scary, yet beautiful feelings that I had bottled up inside for decades; wondering, hoping one day that the world would change.

Four years later, the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell sent this same message to millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. I remember being struck then by the words of Justice Kennedy who authored the opinion.

``It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask only for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.''

Well, since Obergefell, nearly 300,000 same-sex couples have been married. Imagine telling the next generation of Americans--my generation--that we no longer have the right to marry who we love. Congress can't allow that to happen.

I am proud to introduce along with my colleagues, including Representative Nadler, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify the right to marriage equality under Federal law, but we have to do more than that. We have to expand the Supreme Court of the United States to protect fundamental rights once and for all.