The House is due to vote Tuesday on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would require a person to be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was solemnized. The bill would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. . This law remained in force despite being declared unconstitutional by the Oberefell decision.
On Wednesday, the House is due to vote on the Right to Contraception Act, which “would protect a person’s ability to access contraceptives and practice contraception, and protect a health care provider’s ability to providing contraceptives, contraception and contraceptive information.”
Both bills — and Democrats’ urgency to move them — are a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade last month. In agreeing with the ruling, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the High Court should also review previous rulings that have legalized the right for married couples to purchase and use contraception without government restriction (Griswold v. Connecticut), same-sex relationships (Lawrence v. Texas) and marriage equality (Oberfell v. Hodges).
“In future cases, we should reconsider all substantive due process precedents of this Court, including Griswold, Lawrence and Oberfelfell,“Thomas wrote. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably wrong’…we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in these precedents.”
“Having overturned these blatantly erroneous rulings, the question remains whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad of rights that our substantive due process cases have generated,” he added.
Rep. Kathy E. Manning (DN.C.), who introduced the birth control bill last week, called Thomas’ concurring opinion “alarming” and “a rallying call to step up attacks on access to contraceptives”.
“I will not sit idly by and watch hardline politicians hamper women’s private health care choices and diminish reproductive freedom,” Manning said then.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also criticized Thomas’s deal, calling it “draconian” and stressing that it was an impetus to act quickly on the Respect for Marriage Act, lest marriage equality be threatened by the Republican-controlled state. legislatures on the road.
“We can’t take anything for granted,” Rep. Chris Pappas (DN.H.), the first openly gay member of Congress, said Monday in a statement supporting the marriage equality bill. “I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will listen to their constituents and stand up for the freedom of every individual to be themselves, to love whomever they want to love, and to marry whomever they choose.”
Both bills are almost certain to pass the House, but will likely face opposition in the equally divided Senate, where Republicans have the right to filibuster both pieces of legislation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Monday she would support the bill to enshrine marriage equality into law, but several other GOP senators have recently said they believe the issue of same-sex marriage should also be referred to the States.
The Biden administration has signaled that it strongly supports passage of both bills. Asked Monday about recent comments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in which he said the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” about his 2015 Oberefell decision, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said they should raise their concerns.
“As we know from the Dobbs decision, one of the things that we have seen from [Thomas] it’s that they’re looking to go further, whether it’s privacy, contraception or marriage equality,” Jean-Pierre said. “You all know this president has been supporting marriage equality for some time. It’s something he believes in. And it’s something he will continue to fight.