Jul 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House passes bill to codify marriage equality with large bipartisan support

House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) participates in the New York City Pride Parade on June 26.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) participates in the New York City Pride Parade on June 26. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Almost 50 House Republicans joined Democrats to pass legislation on Tuesday that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enshrine marriage equality into federal law.

Why it matters: The legislation, approved 267-157, is part of Democrats' response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas' signaling that rulings on marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights and contraception could also be reconsidered.

  • 47 Republicans voted for the legislation. Among the Republicans who voted yes were several members of leadership: House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and NRCC Chair Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), as well as Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus.
  • The bill even got support from all four members from Utah: Republican Reps. Blake Moore, Burgess Owens, Chris Stewart and John Curtis.
  • It was not supported, however, by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
  • House Republican leadership did not tell their members how to vote on the bill, but it instead advised them to vote their conscience, a senior GOP aide told Axios. The bill has one Republican sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but none in the House.

Driving the news: A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires states to recognize all marriages if they were valid in the states they were performed.

  • The bill was introduced by a group of top House and Senate Democrats as well as Collins.
  • The bill also codifies the right to interracial marriage.

What they're saying: "As this Court may take aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by as the hard-earned gains of the Equality movement are systematically eroded," House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Monday in a statement.

  • "If Justice Thomas’ concurrence teaches anything, it’s that we cannot let your guard down or the rights and freedoms that we have come to cherish will vanish into a cloud of radical ideology and dubious legal reasoning."

Catch up quick: Thomas in a concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade said that the Supreme Court should reconsider opinions protecting same-sex relationships, marriage equality and access to contraceptives.

What we're watching: The bipartisan support in the House could signal whether it will get the 10 Republican Senate votes needed to overcome the filibuster.

More than 20 GOP senators declined to stake out positions on the issue in interviews with Axios' Andrew Solender.

Go deeper... Congress moves to protect marriage equality after Roe decision

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