Respect for Marriage Act: Will it lead to the Supreme Court striking down gay marriage?
A conservative law firm has speculated that if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act is signed into law by President Joe Biden, it could actually lead to the United States Supreme Court overturning its earlier ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
In a statement released Monday, the Liberty Counsel commented on Congress' recently passed bill legalizing same-sex marriage, thus codifying the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Liberty Counsel argued that the bill’s passage “can actually create the perfect scenario to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same-sex marriage.”
The conservative law firm noted that thanks to changes in the roster of the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court is more conservative than it was in 2015.
Additionally, the group cited the 2013 case of United States v. Windsor, which ruled in part that, in general, “the states, not the federal government, have the right to regulate marriage.”
Lastly, Liberty Counsel noted that one objection to overturning Obergefell is the issue of same-sex couples who had gotten marriage licenses, and what might happen to those licenses. However, noted the group, the bill would actually secure the fate of marriage licenses.
“As a result of RFMA, when Obergefell is overturned, those who obtained licenses will be ‘grandfathered’ in and the licenses will remain valid,” explained the group.
“However, like abortion, the Supreme Court will overturn Obergefell and states will then be free to return to their laws prior to 2015 where they defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Liberty Counsel's statement included a quote from its chairman and founder, Mat Staver, who commented that the Respect for Marriage Act “will be the undoing of the Supreme Court’s 2015 same-sex marriage opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.”
“The advocates of RFMA may celebrate today, but that celebration will not last. Lawmakers have unwittingly created the perfect scenario to overturn the unconstitutional Obergefell decision,” stated Staver.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act in a 258-169 vote after the proposed legislation passed the Senate in a vote of 61-36. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill came partly in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June, when the justices ruled 6-3 that abortion was not a constitutional right and that states could ban the practice.
The bill seeks to federally codify the legalization of same-sex marriage, officially overturning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which had passed Congress overwhelmingly and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
The Respect for Marriage Act has garnered criticism in conservative circles, with many charging that, among other things, the legislation fails to adequately protect groups and people morally opposed to same-sex marriage.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has referred to the bill as the “(Dis)Respect for Marriage Act” and raised concerns that it will make “people prime targets for government harassment, investigation, prosecution, even civil action.”
“This bill is a club, with which the Left will attempt to beat people of orthodox faith — who believe in marriage as God designed it and history has defined — into submission to their destructive sexuality ideology,” stated Perkins.
However, some socially conservative entities, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have voiced support for the federal law, believing that it sufficiently protects the freedom of religion.
“We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” stated the LDS Church last month.
“We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”