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Rep. Jones Applauds Historic Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY), a leading member of the House Judiciary Committee, applauded the passage of the historic Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that formally repeals the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and compels the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed under state law. The Respect for Marriage Act also codifies the right to interracial marriage. Rep. Jones joined Rep. Jerry Nadler in introducing the bill earlier this year, after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization called into question fundamental rights including the right to same-sex marriage. Rep. Jones took to the House floor to mark this historic moment for LGBTQ+ people across the country.

On the House floor, Rep. Jones said: “Today I cast one of the proudest votes I will ever cast in this body — I was a “YEA” on the Respect for Marriage Act…This bill is a great first step. It ensures that the federal government will not discriminate against same-sex and interracial couples who have been legally married. But Congress must also pass other legislation to ensure marriage equality as the law of the land.” 

In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Court to reconsider decisions protecting fundamental rights, including the right to same-sex marriage recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges, and the right to contraception. In the face of these attacks, Rep. Jones and his colleagues have led the fight for Congress to protect marriage equality. 

The Respect for Marriage Act will overturn the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and codify the right to marriage equality in federal statute for the first time. In light of the far-right Supreme Court majority’s decision to overturn settled law in the Dobbs decision this summer, and recent revelations of serious ethics violations on the Court, it is necessary to protect the rights given to Americans in cases like Obergefell before this unbalanced, hyper-partisan institution can place them at further risk. Rep. Jones has consistently advocated for reforming and expanding the Supreme Court, and defending fundamental rights in the face of these threats.

Specifically, the Respect for Marriage Act would: 

• Repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against married same-sex couples.

• Enshrine marriage equality for federal law purposes. The bill requires, for federal law purposes, that an individual be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. This gives same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to enjoy equal treatment under federal law as all other married couples — which the Constitution requires.

• Protect interracial marriage by preventing discrimination in state law against married couples based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin.

• Provide additional legal protections from individuals seeking to undermine marriage equality while acting under color of state law. The bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out-of-state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the individuals in the marriage, provides the Attorney General with the authority to pursue enforcement actions, and creates a private right of action for any individual harmed by a violation of this provision.

 As one of only nine openly gay members of Congress, Rep. Jones has been a leading voice on LGBTQ+ issues. At the height of the monkeypox outbreak this summer, he called on the Biden administration to coordinate a swift, equitable response while working against harmful anti-LGBTQ+ stereotypes. Rep. Jones also secured $1.5 million in funding for the Rockland Pride Center to build the first LGBTQ+ community clinic in the Hudson Valley and provide vital health and support services to LGBTQ+ individuals in and around New York’s 17th Congressional District.

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