Hoyer: We Cannot Afford to Underestimate the Risk to Marriage Equality

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record today in support of H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act:

“Madam Speaker, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson demonstrated not only the extremist majority of justices’ disregard for constitutional precedent; it also showed their disregard for the individual liberties of the American people.  As if depriving women of their constitutional right to reproductive health care weren’t enough, Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion specifically opened the door to the overturning of United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges - and implicitly we can read this to mean Loving v. Virginia as well.  These cases established constitutional protections for same-sex and interracial marriage in America. 

“Today, 1.1 million Americans are in same-sex marriages.  Almost ten times as many are in interracial marriages.  One of the very first votes I took as a young state senator in Maryland after my first election to public office was to repeal our state’s vile and racist anti-miscegenation law.  That was in 1967, five years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia.  Fifty-five years have now passed since that ruling.  It has been nine and seven years, respectively, since the Windsor and Obergefell rulings.  Americans have become used to knowing that they have a constitutional right to equal marriage.  Indeed, American women had gotten used to the security of knowing that they had a constitutional right to reproductive choice for forty-nine years until last month.

“Just as was the case with the immediate aftermath of the Dobbs ruling, at least thirty-five states already have laws or amendments in their state constitution that would outlaw same-sex marriage if Obergefell were overturned.  We must do everything in our power to ensure that Republican-controlled state legislatures don’t have the opportunity to restrict the rights of LGBTQ or interracial couples in America.  Neither government officials nor Supreme Court justices should be able to decide that consenting American adults cannot marry.  That’s why I’m bringing the Respect for Marriage Act to the Floor today to codify the marriage equality precedents set by Loving, Windsor, and Obergefell into federal statute.

“I want to thank Chairman Nadler, Rep. Cicilline, all the Co-Chairs of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, Chairwoman Beatty, Chairman Ruiz, Chairwoman Chu, and Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeffries for taking the lead on this crucial legislation. 

“We cannot afford to underestimate the risk to marriage equality.  We cannot afford to be complacent and take for granted the rights we have under the constitution as Americans.  The millions of same-sex and interracial couples throughout the United States should not have to live with the fear that extremist Supreme Court justices – who act as though they are legislators – could end legal recognition for their families or prevent millions of others from being able to build families with equal legal status.  They deserve the assurance that their marriages will always be recognized in every city, county, and state across the country.  That is the overwhelming consensus of the American people, and it is the clear view of our constitution.

“I urge my colleagues to join me in voting ‘yes’ on this legislation to protect and respect marriages across our country.”

For more information about our releases, please contact Maya Valentine at 202-226-1290.