DES MOINES, Iowa – The U.S. House of Representatives voted 267 to 157 on Tuesday to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 and to codify same-sex marriage in federal law. The Respect for Marriage Act requires states to extend “full faith and credit” to marriages even if it is not recognized in state law.
The bill is a reaction to Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center that aimed the Supreme Court recognition “substantive due process” rights not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.
“Substantive due process is the core inspiration for many of the Court’s constitutionally unmoored policy judgments,” Thomas wrote.
Quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia, he added, ‘(I)n future cases, we should ‘follow the text of the Constitution, which sets forth certain substantive rights that cannot be taken away, and adds, beyond that, a right to due process when life, liberty, or property is to be taken away.’ Substantive due process conflicts with that textual command and has harmed our country in many ways. Accordingly, we should eliminate it from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.”
Progressives feared that rights to privacy, contraception, and marriage, including same-sex and interracial marriage, could be at risk prompting legislation like the U.S. House voted for on Tuesday.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in their concurring opinions that decisions, like the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges opinion that required all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage, were safe.
Three out of four of Iowa’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation voted for the bill.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, was among the unanimous vote among Democrats for the bill.
“Today I voted yes on the Respect for Marriage Act to enshrine marriage equality in federal law and ensure same-sex and interracial marriages will continue to be recognized,” she said. “I will continue fighting in Congress to protect these rights.”
U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, were among the 47 Republicans who voted for the bill.
“I voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that respects and maintains settled law. Now, Democrats need to focus on policies that will help families: lowering costs for groceries and gas, securing our border to keep our communities safe, and getting our economy working again,” Hinson said in a released statement.
“H.R. 8404 ensures that the federal government recognizes marriages legally performed in each state and ensures that states recognize marriages performed in other states regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, or sex. This legislation aligns with the legal precedent established by numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Notably, this bill does not require individuals or organizations to perform marriages contrary to their religious beliefs upholding religious rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution,” Miller-Meeks told The Iowa Torch in an email.
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, was the only U.S. House member from Iowa who voted against the bill. The Iowa Torch reached out to his office for comment but did not receive a reply before publication.
It’s unclear whether the U.S. Senate will take this bill up and pass it.