Why marriage equality should top Congress’ list of priorities in 2022 | Op-Ed
Sep 5, 2022, 10:29 AM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 8:38 am
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The U.S. Senate goes back to work Tuesday, and there’s a lot to do. There’s a deadline to avoid a government shutdown, crucial money for the FDA, a plan to speed up permits for new energy projects promised to Sen. Joe Manchin, a bill to clarify how presidential election disputes are resolved, and some key judicial nominees President Biden needs to confirm.
But every one of those things will be a fight, and with just two months to election day, it’ll be a race for the evenly divided senate.
Which is why the very first thing the senate should do is something that has bipartisan support, has been upheld by courts, passed by the House, and is supported by over 70% of Americans: the senate must codify marriage equality as law.
Why, you say? Isn’t that already the law?
Same-sex marriage has been legal coast to coast since June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on marriage equality. Since that time, millions of same-sex couples had wed, and millions more have seen their domestic partnerships or state-level marriages recognized federally.
Case closed…until the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision earlier this summer that overturned the right to abortion.
That ruling called into question the previously established right to privacy that abortion, contraception, interracial marriage, and marriage equality have all been based upon.
It’s true that the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito specifically said the ruling was focused only on abortion, but in a separate concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly wrote that all those decisions must be reexamined in light of Dobbs. Attorneys general in conservative states like Texas have already vowed to do just that.
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Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to write same-sex marriage into the law, and 47 Republicans were among those supporting the bill.
In the Senate, openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin– Democrat of Wisconsin – has been quietly lobbying Republicans to support the bill, and just six days ago, her spokesperson told Politico, “We feel confident we will have the Republican support we need.”
That’s at least 10 Republicans on top of every Democrat giving the bill a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
And still, Senate Majority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer wants to punt. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Schumer was pushing the marriage equality bill to October. Instead, he wants to fight the harder fights now.
But we know those fights will run down the clock. We know Democrats can’t and won’t win all of those fights. So why risk running out of time fighting and getting nothing instead of passing a sure-fire win that could be on President Biden’s desk in a matter of days? Then fight the fights. Then race the clock. Then take the risks.
I’m no U.S. senator, but I am a guy married to another guy who would really like to go back to sleeping a little easier at night knowing my marriage won’t just disappear if Justice Clarence Thomas convinces 4 of his 5 fellow conservatives on the court that it should.
Editors Note: Originally published as Sen. Tammy Duckworth was later changed to Sen. Tammy Baldwin