WASHINGTON (AP/KFOR) — In a 267-157 vote Tuesday, the U.S. House approved legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservatives.
Among those 157 were Oklahoma US Representatives Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Kevin Hern, and Markwayne Mullin.
Rep. Frank Lucas did not vote.
In all, 47 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for passage.
KFOR has reached out to the offices of Bice, Cole, Hern, and Mullin.
Congressman Tom Cole sent the following statement:
“I regret the manner by which this legislation was unnecessarily rushed to the floor without any thoughtful consideration and deliberation in the committee of jurisdiction, and I could not support it.”Rep. Tom Cole, OK-04
Congresswoman Stephanie Bice gave the following statement:
“Last night’s vote was an attempt to divert from the very real issues that are affecting everyday Oklahomans. To make matters worse, Democrats in the House rammed through this legislation without any Congressional hearings or committee debate. This is not a serious attempt to legislate.”Rep. Stephanie Bice, OK-05
Congressman Kevin Hern released the following:
“Speaker Pelosi is committed to distracting everyone from the issues impacting every single American: rampant inflation, all-time-high gas prices, and stagnant wage growth.
The only purpose of this legislation is to instill fear and spread misinformation about the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. Pelosi is desperate to deflect your attention anywhere but her own complicity in our current economic crisis.”Rep. Kevin Hern, OK-01
The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal a law from the Clinton era that defines marriage as a heterogeneous relationship between a man and a woman. It would also provide legal protections for interracial marriages by prohibiting any state from denying out-of-state marriage licenses and benefits on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.
The 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, had basically been sidelined by Obama-era court rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which established the rights of same-sex couples to marry nationwide, a landmark case for gay rights.
But last month, writing for the majority in overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito argued for a more narrow interpretation of the rights guaranteed to Americans, noting that the right to an abortion was not spelled out in the Constitution.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas went further, saying other rulings similar to Roe, including those around same-sex marriage and the right for couples to use contraception, should be reconsidered.
It’s one of several bills, including those enshrining abortion access, that Democrats are proposing to confront the court’s conservative majority. Another bill, guaranteeing access to contraceptive services, is set for a vote later this week.
In a robust but lopsided debate, Democrats argued intensely and often personally in favor of enshrining marriage equality in federal law, while Republicans steered clear of openly rejecting gay marriage. Instead leading Republicans portrayed the bill as unnecessary amid other issues facing the nation.
In fact, almost none of the Republicans who rose to speak during the debate directly broached the subject of same-sex or interracial marriage.
As several Democrats spoke of inequalities they said they or their loved ones had faced in same-sex marriages, the Republicans talked about rising gas prices, inflation and crime, including recent threats to justices in connection with the abortion ruling.
While the Respect for Marriage Act easily passed the House with a Democratic majority, it is likely to stall in the evenly split Senate, where most Republicans would probably join a filibuster to block it.
Polling shows a majority of Americans favor preserving rights to marry, regardless of sex, gender, race or ethnicity, a long-building shift in modern mores toward inclusion.
A Gallup poll in June showed broad and increasing support for same-sex marriage, with 70% of U.S. adults saying they think such unions should be recognized by law as valid. The poll showed majority support among both Democrats (83%) and Republicans (55%).
Approval of interracial marriage in the U.S. hit a six-decade high at 94% in September, according to Gallup.