How NJ Senators Voted on Protecting Same-Sex Interracial Marriage

NEW JERSEY — Senators in New Jersey on Monday voted with a majority on landmark legislation codifying federal protections for same-sex and mixed-race marriages.

The Respect For Marriage Act was introduced to the full Senate a day after clearing a procedural hurdle after garnering enough Republican support to break a filibuster. The final vote was 61-35, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to pass the Turnaround Bill.

The Biden administration is moving quickly to pass the law before Democrats lose the House majority in January. The House of Representatives must consider the bill with Senate amendments after 47 Republicans joined Democrats to pass the Respect for Marriage bill in July.

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“I hope we can do it as quickly as we can, because millions of Americans deserve equal justice before the law and the assurance that their right to marry the person they love is protected,” said Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader in the Senate, a New York Democrat,” Montag said.

New Jersey Senators — Cory Booker and Bob Menendez — both voted yes to the bill. In July, all members of the New Jersey House delegation voted in favor of the measure except for Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican in the state’s 4th congressional district. Continue reading: NJ Rep. votes no to protect interracial, same-sex marriages

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The legislature would not change the Obergefell v. Hodges of the Supreme Court in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, nor would it require states to legalize same-sex marriage. However, it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal at the time it was enacted and protect existing same-sex marriages.

It would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

The issue gained momentum after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade and ended 49 years of constitutional protections for abortion. The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was one of the few times in history that the Supreme Court has overturned a previous decision declaring a constitutional right.

It sparked fears that other landmark cases, including the one legalizing same-sex marriage, could fall next. In his unanimous opinion in the Dobbs case, Judge Clarence Thomas argued that if the due process clause of the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion, it does not guarantee any other substantive rights either.

Thomas wrote in his unanimous opinion that the Supreme Court “should reconsider all the material precedents of this court, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — landmark decisions relating to the right to contraception, the invalidation of anti-sodomy statutes, and the law on same-sex marriage.

Thomas – a black man married to a white woman – brought Loving v. Virginia, which repealed laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But his opinion led to speculation that the Supreme Court might eventually change course on the matter.

President Joe Biden’s signing of the Respect For Marriage Act would be a major victory for Democrats, ushering in their two years of consolidated power in Washington, and a massive victory for proponents who have been pushing for federal legislation to legalize same-sex marriages for decades.

It is noteworthy that laws codifying the protections of marriage have even made it up for debate, Schumer said.

“A decade ago it would have stretched all our imaginations to imagine both sides talking about protecting the rights of same-sex couples,” he said.

The Senate version includes three Republican-negotiated amendments that protect the right of religious institutions and others to continue to oppose same-sex marriage.

Proponents say they are unnecessary because they are already amending the bill to clarify that it does not affect any individual or business rights currently enshrined in law. This change would also clarify that marriage is between two people, an attempt to deflect some far-right criticism that the legislation may support polygamy.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who has campaigned for his fellow GOP senators for months to support the legislation, points to the number of religious groups supporting the bill, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of these groups were part of the bipartisan change negotiations.

“They see this as a step forward for freedom of religion,” Tillis said.

Support for some religious groups reflects changing public opinion on the issue – recent polls have found that more than two-thirds of the public supports same-sex partnerships. But Congress acted more slowly.

Most Republicans still oppose the law, believing it unnecessary, citing concerns about religious freedom. And some conservative groups have stepped up opposition in recent weeks.

Along with Tillis, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman provided early support for the bill and lobbied their GOP peers to support it.

Also voting for the bill were Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan from Alaska.

The GOP’s growing support for the issue is in sharp contrast to just a decade ago, when many Republicans were vocal against same-sex marriage.

Tammy Baldwin, a senator from Wisconsin, a Democrat who is the first openly gay senator and has worked on gay rights issues for nearly four decades, said earlier this month that the newfound openness of many Republicans on the issue puts them “at the slur.” First of all, the LBGTQ movement, in the early days, when people weren’t out there and people knew gay people by myths and stereotypes.”

Baldwin, the Senate lead negotiator for the legislation, said hearts and minds have changed as more individuals and families have become visible.

“And slowly laws followed,” she said. “It’s history.”

The Associated Press contributed to the coverage.

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