U.S. House moves to codify LGBTQ+ and interracial marriage


Used with express permission from River Yatko

The Delaware pride festival marks the start of LGBTQ+ pride month in Delaware.

Grace Metz, Editor-In-Chief

In a legislative season full of landmark cases and heated deliberation, the House moved to federally guarantee the right to same-sex and interracial marriage.
The vote came with more than half of the House’s support, with 47 Republicans joining their Democratic peers.
Now, the Respect For Marriage Act (RFMA) has been sent to the Senate, where it awaits action.
This comes after challenges to existing protections for individuals who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, including bills outlawing transgender people from participating in highschool sports and campaigns to ban books which discuss LGBTQ+ issues.
“Queer people are facing a lot of challenges in their lives right now,” junior Emily Ward said. “Whether that be in school, work, or communities; they’re facing a lot of backlash, even though it’s 2022.”
Although precedent was set with the 2015 Obergefell V. Hodges case, which determined that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples when issuing marriage licenses, some fear that the overturning of Roe V. Wade is the start of a trend to nullify key civil rights cases.
“I think it’s partly a reaction to the Supreme Court,” said Peg Watkins, chair of the Delaware Democratic Party. “Justice Thomas was writing some very scary sounding things about additional restrictions that he could be putting into effect after the abortion ban.”
The RFMA would repeal and replace the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law enshrining marriage as between one man and one woman in the eyes of the national government.
DOMA was created in order to define and regulate the institution of marriage, yet specifically excluded LGBTQ+ individuals.
This new definition of marriage would not only include same-sex couples, but also outlaw states acting against the marriage of two individuals on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.
Still, there have been concerns among some members of the queer community who do not conform to the format of a traditional two-parent family.
“I hope it means that families feel protected…[but] I’m concerned for the [polyamorous] population,” Hayes Gay Straight Alliance adviser Samantha Hunter said. “They might find themselves in an interesting spot depending on the language of the bill.”
The legislation may only extend to those in two-person relationships, but Watkins believes that it is a sign of more wide-reaching protections to come.
“There’s been a shift towards extending rights to additional groups in America…public attitudes on same sex marriage have definitely come on over [in support],” Watkins said. “Hopefully it’s a trend, but I think that typically, progress is not linear. We go forwards, and then we go backwards. You see that with women’s rights and voting rights for African Americans and lots of other things.”
Cuba is the most recent country to fully legalize and institute national protections for same-sex couples.
There was some pushback from religious fundamentalists, yet the act passed with two-thirds of the popular vote.
Some wish that the U.S. would do the same.
“America has come a long way, and we have a long way to go,” Hunter said. “We hold out hope because it glistens…presumably, it gets better.”