9 Members of the LGBTQ+ Community Respond to House Passing Bill to Protect Same-Sex Marriage
On Tuesday, June 19 the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would codify the federal protections of same-sex marriage that have been in place since 2015. Before President Joe Biden can sign it into law, however, the Senate needs a majority approval — which is possible but not a sure thing and would require cross-party support. That said, The New York Times reported that 47 Republicans voted "yes" to support the legislation, which has given hope that there is a "narrow bipartisan path" to enactment.
The Respect for Marriage Act comes soon after the Supreme Court's ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health laid the groundwork for the precedent set by Obergefell v. Hodges to be overturned and marriage equality to be challenged. Many fear that same-sex marriage could potentially fall under the scrutiny of the conservative-majority Supreme Court in the near future if it isn't protected at the federal level. The Respect for Marriage Act would also protect married couples from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin, CNN reports.
In an effort to diversify the representatives making these massive decisions, organizations like the LGBTQ Victory Fund work behind the scenes to increase the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government. According to a press release from the fund, there are more LGBTQ people running for office this year than ever before, with at least 1,008 running in the 2022 midterms. Also, data says candidates are more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation across local, state, and federal government elections since 2018.
In a statement about this historic announcement, Annise Parker, president and chief executive of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said: "our rights are on the ballot this year" for the LGBTQ community. "The people we elect this cycle will make decisions about what our kids are allowed to learn and say in the classroom, what healthcare choices people will be allowed to make about their own bodies, and possibly, whether we will continue to be allowed to marry those we love."
Parker is not the only one with a strong opinion on the matter. While we await the outcome from the Senate, POPSUGAR spoke with people from the LGBTQ+ community about where they were on the day same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 and their reaction to the news that it may become protected nationally.
"Our rainbow is still arching toward that pot of gold."
"It's heartwarming to know there can be some glimmers of hope in these turbulent and often discouraging times. As a 71-year-old gay man that has been with his husband for over 40 years and a parent to a 29-year-old daughter, I have seen many setbacks and times of darkness over the years. To know that we have allies in this great country that are still willing to fight for what is right, what is kind, and what is true human justice gives me hope that our rainbow is still arching toward that pot of gold!" — Dennis Duban (71), Los Angeles, CPA and owner of DLD Accountancy
"We are still fearing for our safety and security with our partners as queer folks."
"As a queer, trans, and nonbinary human living in California, I recall the sense of affirmation and celebration in 2004 when California was the first state in the US to have a legal same-sex marriage ceremony thanks to then-SF Mayor Gavin Newsom. I recall later the feeling of defeat and betrayal when that right was revoked, and we took to the streets again, until 2015 when SCOTUS finally struck down all statewide bans on same-sex marriage. The fact that it is now 2022 and we are still fearing for our safety and security with our partners as queer folks or nonwhite cis heteros is absurd. The Senate doesn't only need to pass the Respect for Marriage Act to protect ALL Americans but we need to really rethink how our judicial system works and revamp who gets to make decisions for the rights of the great melting pot that is the American people. People with the biases and philosophies of the Middle Ages should not be making calls on the rights and personal choices of people in a modern world." — NiK Kacy (47), San Francisco, creator of Equality Fashion Week
"I have just began to dream of marrying the love of my life after coming out."
"I recently came out as lesbian last year at age 25 and have happily been in a relationship for almost a year. Seeing the bill to codify same-sex marriage passed in the House is a huge sigh of relief. But with that relief still comes sadness knowing many still want who I can marry to be up for debate. I have just began to dream of marrying the love of my life after coming out, and it feels like this dream may be shattered. I remember my parents taking me to a gay-rights march about same-sex marriage as a child, and although I wasn't out at that time, I felt so passionate about it. Closeted me celebrated internally when same-sex marriage was finally passed, and that past version of myself seeing me live as my authentic self now would be so happy if who I can marry is protected." — Natalie Kelley (26), Portland, OR, chronic illness mindset coach at Plenty and Well.
"I was kind of waiting to figure out how to come out without blowing up my life."
"So 2015 was still a couple of years before my transition, although by that time I fully recognized my gender identity, and I was kind of waiting to figure out how to come out without blowing up my life. I remember thinking then that it was about time same-sex marriage was legalized more broadly. Before that it had been available in some states, but this was more of a national referendum. It just always seemed to me that a marriage legally was between two people who were committed to each other, and their individual genders really shouldn't matter much. I'm guessing many people think that same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide long ago, but it hasn't been that long. We should be passing laws for these protections and using specific, modern-day language instead of relying on the Supreme Court's interpretation in modern times and sensibilities. The Court is just that — a court. We shouldn't be legislating from the bench. Whether it can get passed in the Senate where 10 Republicans will have to join in is not certain. Hopefully, they will prevail." — Wynne Nowland (61), Melville, NY, CEO of Bradley and Parker
"At times it feels like we can never take a moment to relax. There's always a fight to be fought."
"I was interning in New York City when the Supreme Court decided all states were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It was extremely overwhelming, especially as someone who had only been out of the closet for less than one year. (I didn't come out till I was almost 23 years old.) I remember heading to the bathroom to cry. It was the first time in my life I was not ashamed of my identity. I felt recognized. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, I knew LGBTQ+ protections were going to be under attack, especially as the decision came on the heels of antitransgender legislation sweeping our nation. Hearing the news about the bill this week, which I believe was originally introduced over a decade ago, provided a small glimmer of hope. But the fact that we are still fighting for protections to interracial and same-sex marriages under federal law in 2022 is disheartening and unacceptable. At times it feels like we can never take a moment to relax. There's always a fight to be fought. It can be exhausting to be queer — or really anything other than cisgender, straight, and white in America. We're constantly in jeopardy of having our human rights stripped away from us simply because of how we look or who we love. I'll add that I am extremely appreciative of our Democratic and Republican allies. We need all the support we can get." — Michael Kaye (30), NYC, global lead at OkCupid and board member of Human Rights Campaign
"Let this be a lesson to remain organized, steadfast, and poised."
"I applaud the recent congressional measure to codify same-sex marriage into federal law while also seeking to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Yet, as an LGBTQ+ professor who advises many queer college students and allies, a part of me feels like the steps to codify marriage equality should have happened sooner — particularly when Democrats had more political capital at their disposal. In 2015, I recall Supreme Court Justice Clearance Thomas's clear disdain for the passage of marriage equality. It seemed that Thomas's dismay, along with other cultural forces, would have served as an indicator for the powers that be to remain vigilant and consistent in solidifying LGBTQ+ human rights. Nevertheless, again, while I am happy that Congress has taken recent steps to preserve same-sex marriage, I also know we have been duly warned. Let this be a lesson to remain organized, steadfast, and poised to pivot through the mechanics of government in good times — as a hedge — for hard-fought and earned freedoms." — Dr. Ronnie Gladden (43), Ohio, author of "The White Girl Within"
"We are both hopeful that codifying will guarantee the safety and security of our marriage."
"When marriage equality passed in 2015, I was still married to my ex-husband. I was so happy and excited to see that marriage was legal. My wife has been out forever. I am the first woman she has ever been married to, because it was not legal prior. Marriage to her is such a significant and important step in LGBTQIA+ rights. It was something she did not expect to see in her lifetime. We are both hopeful that codifying will guarantee the safety and security of our marriage. We hope the Senate passes this bill — an extremely important human-rights issue. You cannot give people rights and then take them away. As women, we have felt this denial of basic rights with the overturning of Roe v Wade at a core level." — Rev. Anne-Marie Zanzal (58), Tennessee, author of "Authenticate Peace"
"To think that in 2022 we still feel the need to hide our true selves to be included in larger communities is heartbreaking."
"One of the defining moments of my young adult life was when Obergefell v. Hodges was officially decided. I can still feel the visceral reaction once the court's decision came out — tears of joy, a sense of safety, and a new beginning for our community. And I was not alone in this reaction. I can remember the parades, the celebrations, and just a sense of our community coming together to watch history being made. Flash forward to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the comments made by both Justice Thomas and Senator Cruz almost felt like a looming dark cloud was hanging over our community — call it déjà vu, if you will. Those feelings of joy and relief quickly reverted back to our community being scared, anxious, and unsure of our rights yet again. To have people in power — especially those sitting on the Supreme Court — say that we need to revisit these decisions not only makes me think that progress was never truly made but makes me fearful of how this opens the door for further oppression of my community. To think that in 2022 we still feel the need to hide our true selves to be included in larger communities is heartbreaking. I will say I'm happy and optimistic about the bill that passed in the House, though I fear what will happen if the bill does not pass the Senate. Pride was a riot, but I can, again, viscerally feel that this decision will have a much bigger consequence if it goes the wrong way." — Sean Taylor (25), NYC, account executive at The James Collective
"As someone who is both gay and disabled, I am no stranger to having to fight for equality."
"The concept of anyone having to fight for equality is enraging. People are people, and so long as they are not hurting themselves or others, I've always subscribed to the 'live and let live' philosophy. However, as someone who is both gay and disabled, I am no stranger to having to fight for equality. When same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States I had only been openly gay for a few years. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of pride (no pun intended) both in myself and my country for actively choosing to acknowledge millions of people as the equals that we are in the eyes of the law. A little over six years later, the same group of people who felt immense validation on June 25, 2015, are anxiously awaiting the fate of the Respect for Marriage Act as it enters the Senate. I am cautiously optimistic that the elected officials in the Senate will remember the definition of the word equality and their oath to represent all of their constituents." — Kyle Ankney (32), Fort Lauderdale, FL, head of PR for Red Heifer Media