The legislation repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and allows states to refuse to honor same-sex marriages performed in other states. It prohibits states from denying the validity of an out-of-state marriage based on sex, race or ethnicity.
In a move bound to infuriate Conservative Christians and far-right Republicans, a coalition of lawmakers today (Thurday) voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation giving federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
The New York Times reports that, with a vote of 258-169, the landmark legislation was approved by Congress and President Biden will now sign it into law.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, above, announced the tally triumphantly, banging the gavel repeatedly as if to applaud as members of the House cheered.
It was the second time in five months that the House had taken up the Respect for Marriage Act. Last summer, 47 House Republicans joined Democrats in support of the legislation, a level of GOP enthusiasm for same-sex marriage rights that surprised and delighted its supporters.
The push to pass the legislation began after Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in his opinion in the June ruling that overturned Roe v Wade, which had established a constitutional right to abortion, that the court also “should reconsider” precedents enshrining marriage equality and access to contraception.
Representative David Cicilline above, Democrat of Rhode Island said:
Today, we will vote for equality and against discrimination by finally overturning the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act [signed into law by President Bill Clinton] and guaranteeing crucial protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.
Writing for the Times, Annie Karni said:
The fact that the bill managed to attract decisive, bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and the House proves a significant shift in American politics and culture on an issue that was once considered politically divisive. Over the past decade, same-sex marriage has become widely accepted by members of both parties, and polls show that more than 70 percent of voters support same-sex marriage.
However, the majority of Republicans remained opposed during today’s debate. They argued that the measure was a response to a non-existent threat to same-sex marriage rights, and condemned the bill as immoral.
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats had “conjured up” an “unfounded fear” that the Supreme Court was on the brink of nullifying same-sex marriage rights and other precedents, and said the measure still lacked sufficient protections for organisations that do not consider such unions valid.
Representative Bob Good, Republican of Virginia, above, poured scorn on the legislation, saying that the Act should be called:
The ‘disrespect for marriage act.’ This bill certainly disrespects God’s definition of marriage and his definition is the only one that really matters.
The bad news is that Republican backers of the Respect for Marriage Act insisted that it should guarantee that religious organisations would not be required to provide any goods or services for the celebration of any marriage, and could not lose tax-exempt status or other benefits for refusing to recognise same-sex unions.
Anglican church in a mess over same-sex marriage
In other breaking news centred on same-sex marriage, it’s reported by AP that the divisions within the Anglican Church have further widened.
Conservative bishops—notably from Africa and Asia—have affirmed their opposition to LGBT+ inclusion and demanded “repentance” by the more liberal provinces with inclusive policies.
Caught in the middle of the fractious issue is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, above, the Church of England’s top dog and ceremonial leader of the Anglican Communion, which is one of the world’s largest Christian communities.
The divide was highlighted four months ago at the Communion’s Lambeth Conference, typically held once every decade to bring together bishops from the more than 165 countries with Anglican-affiliated churches. It was the first Lambeth Conference since 2008, and the first to which married gay and lesbian bishops were invited.
The conservative primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda refused to attend, while other bishops who share their opposition to LGBTQ inclusion pushed unsuccessfully for the Lambeth gathering to reconfirm a 1998 resolution rejecting same-sex marriage.
Now those primates, and their allies worldwide, are looking ahead to a conference in Kigali, Rwanda, in April. They’re expected to discuss their dismay at support for same-sex marriage in some Anglican churches and what they see as Welby not taking a tough stand against such marriages.
Bishop Williams Aladekugbe, above, of Nigeria’s Ibadan North Anglican Diocese said same-sex unions are “ungodly and devilish”.
And Rwandan bishop, Alexis Bilindabagabo of the diocese of Gahini, said he condemns the ordination of gay priests because “weak” people shouldn’t stand at the pulpit. The imbecile said:
A gay man must be led, but he should not lead others.
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