WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Judiciary Committee, voted to pass H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act, bipartisan legislation to enshrine and protect marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples. Rep. Jeffries was instrumental in drafting the legislative language to protect the marriage rights of interracial couples.
Earlier this year, when the Court overturned the right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that they “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.”
“Love does not discriminate and neither should the law. During more enlightened times, the Supreme court righted injustices and gave interracial and same-sex couples the freedom to marry who they love,” said Rep. Jeffries. “Those rights are now at risk because of the out-of-control, radical, right-wing Supreme Court majority. Through spurious legal theory and illogic, Clarence Thomas may think that these rights are now up for grabs, but today a bipartisan coalition led by House Democrats stood up and put people over politics by passing this legislation to protect marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples.”
In the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, the Supreme Court ended all race-based restrictions on marriage and found laws that ban them violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment. In 2015, the Court held that same-sex couples had a right to marry guaranteed by both of the same Clauses of the 14th Amendment. In 1973, in the Roe v. Wade decision, the Court held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment provided a right to privacy which granted women a right to an abortion, which has subsequently been overturned.
Specifically, the Respect for Marriage Act will:
- Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Though ruled unconstitutional by a wiser Court, this law is still on the books and could be put back in place through Court action.
- 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.
- Provide Additional Legal Protections. 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 authority to pursue enforcement actions and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.
Introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the Respect for Marriage Act is co-led by Rep. Jeffries along with Equality Caucus co-chairs Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), 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); Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).