December 6

By Kaia Hubbard

Passage of a bill to codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages has been delayed in the House after a vote was expected on Tuesday that would mark the final hurdle before the legislation heads to the desk of President Joe Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week the chamber would take up the bill on Tuesday. But debate over the measure and its passage now appear to be delayed until later this week amid a busy lame-duck session as the year’s end approaches, and with it, Democrats’ control of the House. Accordingly, the bill could be tacked on to a must-pass defense bill the chamber is also prioritizing this week.

The Senate last week approved the bill, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would create federal protections for marriages between same-sex couples, including a provision that would require states to recognize marriages performed in other states, while repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. But the bill would not require that all states legalize same-sex marriage in the event that the Supreme Court rolled back its decision that did so nationwide.

The legislation secured support from 12 Senate Republicans in last week’s vote, which appeared to be the bill’s largest hurdle, after the House approved a version of the bill earlier this year. With the Senate’s addition of some religious liberty components, the bill returns to the House side before it goes to the desk of President Joe Biden for his signature.

Nearly 50 Republicans joined House Democrats to pass the bill in July in the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, when Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion an openness to reconsidering related landmark cases, spurring a push for lawmakers to preemptively protect the related rights.