US Respect for Marriage Bill

The US Senate recently passed the Respect for Marriage Bill.

What is the US Respect for Marriage Bill?

  • The US Respect for Marriage Bill aims to repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and require the states to recognize all legal marriages regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • The Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act provided the federal definition of “marriage” as only the legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife and “spouse” as only an individual of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.
  • The new bill replaces these provisions and also repeals the provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states or deny full claims to unions based on sex, national origin, race, or ethnicity.
  • The bill also allows the Justice Department to enforce civil actions and establish a private action for violation.

Why was the law introduced?

The Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act was introduced to not alienate conservative voters after the Clinton Government allowed gay and lesbian people to serve in the US military as long as they are not public about their relationship.

Since then, the approval for LGBTQ community and gay marriages has increased in the United States. In 2015, gay marriages were legalized by the US Supreme Court. The court also declared state laws that prohibited interracial marriages as unconstitutional. These cases came to the Supreme Court because of the differences in the state laws and inconsistencies in policies at different levels.

The new federal law – the Respect for Marriage Bill – removes the inconsistencies in the state laws related to interracial marriages and same-sex unions.

Why is this law significant?

According to the US Census Bureau, there are some 5,68,000 same-sex couples in the United States. Currently, there is growing support for the same-sex couples from Republican politicians – a shift from the decades of open opposition to same-sex marriages.

The bill gained prominence after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade ruling and the federal right to an abortion and left the issue to the state governments. At that time, Justice Clarence Thomas had written to the Supreme Court recommending the overturning of other precedents protecting same-sex and interracial unions.

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