NASTAD Applauds Congress and the Administration for Passing Respect for Marriage Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) (H.R. 8404), a historic act that guarantees the same freedoms and rights to LGBTQ+ and interracial marriages that are afforded to all other marriages, into law. NASTAD applauds the passing of the RMA because it guarantees marriage equality and provides millions of LGBTQ+ and interracial couples with the certainty that their marriages will remain legal.
The measure passed the U.S. House of Representatives 267-157 in July 2022, and the Senate’s bipartisan amendment, announced by Senators Collins, Portman, Tillis, Baldwin, and Sinema, was codified in a 61-36 vote on Tuesday, November 29. The RMA was then sent back to the House in its revised form to be voted on again, passing 258-169 on Thursday, December 8, before being sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law today. The bipartisan RMA reaffirms the status quo set by the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and protects couples by providing federal benefits to all married couples in every state.
This legislation comes at a critical time, following the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson which ended federal constitutional protection of abortion rights that was established by the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade―dangerously eroding privacy for individual health decisions―and threatened to put other rights that rely on privacy for protection in danger, including additional rights for LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) communities.
“The Respect for Marriage Act represents a halt in the backward momentum felt by the Dobbs ruling, safeguarding the right to marriage for the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities at a time when that right has appeared to be coming under siege,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, NASTAD Executive Director. “While we celebrate this bill, we know all too well how quickly momentum can turn back, so we must commit to ensuring that progress on marriage equality does not go backward.”
The RMA Act affirms marriage equality for all people. It represents the importance of eradicating discriminatory legislation and policies that oppress marginalized communities, such as LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. These communities often face stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that lead to limited access to quality resources and poor health outcomes. NASTAD is committed to advocating for legislation and policies that are inclusive; anti-racist; and eliminate health disparities and stigma. The RMA provides individuals from communities with equal opportunities, freedoms, and rights in order to enhance their quality of life.
“One of NASTAD’s guiding principles is to advance the rights and dignity of all people by dismantling oppressive and discriminatory systems,” continued Dr. Lee. “The Respect for Marriage Act is a crucial step in constitutionally protecting every American’s right to marriage and preserving their dignity in marrying the person that they love.”
NASTAD is a leading non-partisan non-profit association that represents public health officials who administer HIV and hepatitis programs in the U.S. We work to advance the health and dignity of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and intersecting epidemics by strengthening governmental public health through advocacy, capacity building, and social justice.