The Senate must codify same-sex marriage


Ted Eytan

Ted Eytan | Flickr

Editorial Board

Same-sex marriage is a foundational civil liberty and must be passed into law to protect it from legislators that seek to strip Americans of this right.

The House has already passed a bill to codify same-sex marriage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he intends to hold a vote to pass it into federal law “in the coming weeks.”

The bill passed in the House with a surprising amount of Republican support, but to pass in the Senate, the bill needs the support of all 50 Democrats and at least ten Republicans.

“Let me be clear a vote will happen — a vote on marriage equality will happen on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, and I hope there will be 10 Republicans to support it,” Schumer said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

In the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that shocked Americans by overturning Roe v. Wade and ruling that abortion was not a constitutional right, legislative protections for fundamental civil liberties are essential.

Not only have the recent rulings shown the Supreme Court’s willingness to overturn settled precedent, but Justice Clarence Thomas also explicitly expressed his desire to revisit the basis for protecting rights like same-sex marriage in his concurring opinion.

Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” the decisions and “correct the error” established in Obergefell v. Hodges’ ruling that made same-sex marriage legal. After “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established, he said.

Alternatively, Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion that nothing in its decision overturning Roe v. Wade “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” The rationale used in Roe v. Wade overlaps with the principles that established same-sex marriage.

The Justice’s opinions have left Americans rightfully concerned about what other liberties may also be in jeopardy.

A Supreme Court decision overturning the right to same-sex marriage would have drastic consequences.

Same-sex marriage would become illegal in at least 25 states and likely seven others, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

This is despite the fact that 71% of Americans say they support legal same sex marriage. Additionally, support ranges from 60% to 77% in states where bans would take effect, according to a 2021 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.

In July, five Republican senators said they will or will likely support the bill, eight Republican senators indicated they would vote “no” and 15 Republican senators said they were undecided or did not indicate support for the House-passed bill, CNN reported.

Those who indicated they would not support the bill or were undecided justified their decisions by saying they believed the court would change.

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana indicated that he would not support the bill. He called it a “silly messaging bill” and said “It’s a pure messaging bill. I mean, it’s obviously settled law right now,” according to CNN.

Mitt Romney of Utah was noncommittal and said that it “is not something I’ve given consideration to at this stage” since “I don’t see the law changing.”

Politicians claiming that the right to same-sex marriage is safe are not to be believed, as they reiterated a similar sentiment about the right to abortion.

The court has signaled that it would consider reexamining the issue and justices have expressed that they disagree with the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

It is Congress’ constitutional duty to create legislation irrespective of how great the threat to same-sex marriage is perceived to be.

Article one, section one of the Constitution states: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

The Senate must fulfill their responsibility to their country and pass legislation codifying marriage equality.