WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. House is voting on the Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday, which would enshrine protections for same-sex marriage nationwide.
Democrats say the bill is necessary to protect marriage equality but it’s unclear if it will pass in the U.S. Senate.
Congressman Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) said he and his husband were engaged for 22 years before they could get married. Democrats say Congress must protect the right of all Americans to marry the person they love.
“Every member of Congress will get to stand and be counted today and you can choose between equality or discrimination,” Maloney said. “When I was elected as a member of Congress in 2012, my husband Randy couldn’t have health insurance through this body.”
In 2015 the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, but Democrats fear the court could reverse that decision, just as it did with abortion.
“Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called on the court to reconsider its decisions protecting other fundamental rights, including the right to same-sex marriage,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).
Republicans argue a new law isn’t needed because same-sex marriage isn’t threatened.
“It’s unnecessary, it’s divisive and it’s misleading,” said Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.).
But Democrats say they don’t want to wait to find out.
“We will not allow this right-wing obsession to impose their personal religious views on people’s private lives to go any further,” said Congresswoman Silvia Garcia (D-Tex.).
After passage in the House, the Respect for Marriage Act will head to the Senate, where Republican Susan Collins is a sponsor.