There’s going to be a party at the White House today.
Thousands have been invited to the White House lawn to watch President Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law. Passed by Congress last week, Biden characterized the legislation as “a critical step to ensure that Americans have the right to marry the person they love.”
According to a USA Today article, “The Respect for Marriage Act guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two individuals if the union was valid in the state where it was performed. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere and protects interracial marriages.”
That doesn’t seem like that should be news or even necessary in 2022, but in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to let abortion rights be determined by individual states, the President and Congress felt it necessary to codify the protections for LGBTQ marriages that the Supreme Court had guaranteed just a few short years earlier.
As we’re finding in this new era, a Supreme Court “guarantee” isn’t necessarily a guarantee, and it’s possible for rights we might take for granted to be reversed with a single court decision.
As a law firm that works with LGBTQ couples and prides itself on that, we applaud the move to put basic protections into law. We also recognize that just because LGBTQ couples can stay married under these new federal protections doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for them. Typically, when we’re working with a couple, it’s either at the end of the relationship or after that couple has officially divorced.
The Respect for Marriage Act, from our perspective, allows us to work with LGBTQ couples in the same way we work with straight couples. If people want to get married and a prenuptial agreement is best to protect their individually-held assets, we can do that. If a couple has decided to get divorced, we can help craft a decree that puts your kids first and speaks to your concerns in the transition to a post-divorce life.
The point of the Respect for Marriage Act is ultimately that marriage is marriage, and at its core, love is love. Most of us believe that.
According to NPR, citing a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll just conducted, 68 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, compared to just 42 percent less than 20 years ago. The vote for the Respect for Marriage Act reflected changing opinions among some Republicans; the article noted that “a dozen Republican senators (out of 50) and 39 Republican House members (out of 208) voted in favor of the legislation.”
That’s not a majority, of course, but it’s a sign that more and more people are coming around to the fundamental idea that love is love.
This is a historic day for LGBTQ people everywhere, but it’s also a historic day for those who believe marriage is a fundamental right that should be afforded to all people, starting with the people on both sides of the aisle who voted for it. In our view, it’s a day to celebrate, before knowing that we can go back to work for a diverse group of people.