The counting of the ballots continues this Wednesday morning as the nation slips past a mind-numbing election season. While the bombast and high volume of television advertisements cease there is now the realization with seven weeks left in this congressional session some more work needs to be completed. I suspect, given the usual playbook for political antics, some needless theatrics will occur over the debt ceiling and perhaps another funding measure. But given the political landscape following the outcome of the races on the ballot Tuesday, I firmly believe that it is imperative the Respect for Marriage Act now passes the Senate. There must be no wiggle room allowed for fuzzy thinking or attempts to squirrel this measure into the pile of bills that do not get concluded this year.
The legislation would require states to recognize same-sex unions. What we witnessed with the Supreme Court not adhering to precedent when they overturned abortion rights in the Dobbs decision, ending a fundamental right for women’s health care and marking the first time in our history that the Court stripped away a fundamental right, showcases what is at stake for gay marriage rights. The threats to privacy, as it relates to constitutional law when the conservative justices consider future cases, make this matter of marriage great import to families around this nation.
I am reminded, over and over, how Republican presidents who lost the popular vote have placed very conservative justices on the bench, who then often place their ideological preferences ahead of the concept of a living Constitution. I am also very mindful that Democrats had ample opportunities to bring the Marriage Act to the floor in the summer months, but waffled and failed to just get the job done. The majority of the citizenry–in every state–strongly supports these rights for gay families in the nation. With such national backing, it does beg the question of why the Senate has not found the resolve to pass the measure. When the public desires passage of an issue that does face potential restrictions due to written Court threats, as evidenced by the words of Justice Clarence Thomas in this year’s overturn of Roe, it is easy to see why there is concern about the slow walk. While I can spin the tired lines that Democratic leaders just desired to get Republicans on board with their concerns about religious liberties, I can also assure my readers that gay couples are really not interested, yet again, in being the expendable issue on a negotiating table.
The House, under the able leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. passed the bill in July—and did so with the support of 47 Republicans. With the various levers that can be employed for Senate passage, I do not care if the chamber inserts the language into a must-pass funding measure or if they pass the bill as a stand-alone measure. I cannot adequately express how tired it feels to always be asking others to simply allow for the basic rights and dignity to be afforded to gay people, and in this case, married gay couples.
I would hope that for the next few weeks the culture war hysteria can be tamped down so this meaningful and necessary legislation can be passed. I fully am aware that the various issues facing the LGBT community have been weaponized by conservatives over the past months. It is time now for Democrats to push home the Marriage Act and ensure that the Court cannot erode one more fundamental right in the nation on a whim.
The elections are over, and it is time for Democrats to finish their workload.