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SWFL reps oppose Respect for Marriage Act

Byron Donalds and his wife Erika on their wedding day in 2006. (Photo: Office of Rep. Byron Donalds)

Dec. 8, 2022 by David Silverberg

The Southwest Florida congressional delegation today voted against the Respect for Marriage Act (House Resolution 8404), which received final approval from the US House of Representatives at 11:11 am by a vote of 258 to 169, with one member, Rep. Burgess Owens (R-4-Utah), voting “present.”

The House vote approves an amended Senate version of the bill and sends the legislation to President Joe Biden for signature.

Southwest Florida Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-26-Fla.) all voted against the bill. Diaz-Balart switched his vote to “nay” from a “yea” vote when it first came up before the House in July.

Thirty-nine Republican representatives voted for the bill.

The bill codifies same-sex and interracial marriages into law. Specifically, it repeals and replaces state laws that don’t recognize marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The bill was considered necessary by advocates following the Supreme Court decision, Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department Of Health, et al. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization et al, in June, striking down women’s rights to abortions. In the wake of that decision, Justice Clarence Thomas expressed an opinion that other rights, for example, allowing same-sex marriage and contraception, should similarly be revisited.

“…Since the Supreme Court’s monstrous decision overturning Roe v. Wade, right-wing forces have set their sights on this basic, personal freedom,” stated House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor speech. “In his concurring opinion, Clarence Thomas explicitly called on the Court to reconsider its ruling in Obergefell. While his legal reasoning is twisted and not sound, we must take Justice Thomas at his word, and the hateful movement behind him at their word.”

She continued: “We must act now – on a bipartisan, bicameral basis – to combat bigoted extremism and uphold the inviolability of same-sex and interracial marriages. Once signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will help prevent right-wing extremists from upending the lives of loving couples, traumatizing kids across the country and turning back the clock on hard-work progress.”

The bill is expected to swiftly be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The Southwest Florida representatives’ positions echoed those taken when the bill first passed the House in July. It passed overwhelmingly in the Senate Tuesday, Nov. 29 by a vote of 61 to 36. Both Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), opposed the bill.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it had to be approved again in the House.

As of this writing none of the Southwest Florida representatives had issued statements explaining their votes.

However, in a Dec. 5 statement Diaz-Balart stated: “The concept of all states respecting other states’ decisions on marriage laws is deeply rooted in American jurisprudence and tradition. Similarly, our Founders understood that religious liberties are sacred and vulnerable, and must always be vigorously protected.

“My record shows that I am a long-standing advocate against discrimination of all types. I, however, cannot support any effort that undermines religious liberties by failing to provide legitimate safeguards for Faith-Based organizations that object based on their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

Reposted with permission. View original post on Paradise Progressive here.

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