House Passes Bill to Codify Same-Sex Marriage

House Passes Bill to Codify Same-Sex Marriage

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill July 19 to codify same-sex marriage into law in an attempt to formally repeal the Defense of Marriage Act—a law that was passed in 1996 defining marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman—and require all states to validate same-sex marriages.

The final vote was 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining every Democrat in the majority.

The bill, deceptively named the “Respect for Marriage Act,” was introduced, in part, as a response to Justice Clarence Thomas’ suggestion that Obergefell v. Hodges, a 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, should be reconsidered by the Supreme Court.

“We should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including … Obergefell,” Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. 

The issue of “substantive due process” has long been a controversial topic. According to the National Constitution Center, substantive due process refers to the idea that “certain liberties are so important that they cannot be infringed without a compelling reason no matter how much process is given”—specifically the right to life, liberty or property.

The concern is that the justices of the Supreme Court can impose their policy preferences on the nation, given that substantive due process allows the court to expand the protections of the Constitution based on judicial discretion with no clear limits.

According to Pew Research Center, just three years before Obergefell, 30 states had approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

Terry Schilling of the conservative advocacy organization American Principles Project, warned that The Respect for Marriage Act will negatively impact religious liberty in the U.S., much like the Obergefell decision did.

“The consequences of the court’s redefining of marriage have been extensive, affecting nearly every American,” he said. “Many have seen their First Amendment rights threatened or curtailed, such as bakers, florists, photographers and others.”

And while most expected House Democrats to pass the bill, no questions asked, many were surprised by the dozens of Republicans who followed suit.

“Too many Republicans … expressed concern about the ‘pandora’s box’ it would open to revisit same-sex marriage—when what they should really be worrying about is allowing this attack on the democratic process to stand,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand. “The injustice of Obergefell, like Roe, is that it took away Americans’ most basic right: to be heard.”

Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions, warned of the broader implications that would result from defying God’s design for marriage.

“Any society that attempts to redefine marriage—even to include same-sex couples—denies the creation-order basis of marriage and subverts the larger society.”

Photo: Lazyllama/Alamy

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