Various figures have expressed their response to the implementation of the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) in the US last week, which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and required the federal and state governments to recognize same-sex marriages as equal to heterosexual marriages.
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The act, which was voted for by a majority of 61-36, saw a huge step forward in the progress of equality for LGBTQ+ citizens in the United States. The majority of Democrats present voted in favor of the bill, along with 12 Republicans, indicating a gradual change in the perception of same-sex marriage from both political parties. Kelly Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, praised the passing of the act but believed that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality is still a long road.
“We are closing this discriminatory chapter of our history – marriage equality is here to stay,” said Robinson. “And this is just the beginning – we have more work to do to fight with and for our transgender community… our BIPOC community, and our youngest community members with the same passion and energy that we brought to the fight for marriage equality.”
The RFMA also requires US federal and state governments to recognize interracial marriage in every state. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released a statement in response to this historic amendment, with President and CEO Derrick Johnson recognizing the pivotal impact of this legislation. He referenced the message it sends to US leaders, signifying the continued fight for equal rights and justice.
"In 2022, no person should have to fight for their government to recognize their marriage based on who they love,” Johnson said. “The passage of the Respect for Marriage Act marks a critical, historic victory for civil rights in America. With the Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decisions at risk of reversal, our country has reached a pivotal juncture in the fight for marriage equality.
"This legislation sends a strong message that our leaders in Congress affirm the fundamental rights that these landmark cases secured and provides welcome reassurance for couples across the country who have faced discrimination due to the Defense of Marriage Act. Every individual deserves the right to live openly and to love who they love without fear. The NAACP applauds this bi-partisan effort to ensure federal recognition of marriage regardless of race or gender."
Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris also made a statement in response to the Respect for Marriage Act, displaying her complete support for the legislation. She reminisced on how she attended some of the very first same-sex marriages in the US, speaking about the joy she witnessed on those occasions.
“Our Administration stands for the fundamental right to marry the person you love and live free from discrimination,” Harris wrote. “The Respect for Marriage Act ultimately stands for a simple principle: all Americans are equal and their government should treat them that way. Today, we are one step closer to achieving that ideal with pride.”
The legislation still awaits approval from the House of Representatives, where President Biden will sign the bill.