What does the Respect for Marriage act mean for Tennessee?

Posted at 1:58 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 14:58:56-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Thursday, the House passed a bill to codify same-sex marriage. The "Respect for Marriage Act" passed by a margin of 258-169 with all 169 no votes coming from Republicans, including all 7 Tennessean Republicans.

While this bill will head to President Joe Biden's desk for signature, it's impact on the Volunteer state can be limited.

The future of same-sex and interracial marriages was put back into question earlier this year when Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court should "reconsider" past rulings such as Obergefell v. Hodges which required states to recognize same-sex marriage in 2015.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” he said in a concurring opinion in the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.


In short, the bill replaces and repeals the "Defense for Marriage Act," which was passed in 1996.

The "Respect for Marriage Act" says that if any couple is married in a state where that marriage is legal, it will be federally recognized. That means if a same-sex couple living in a state where such a marriage was outlawed, like Tennessee, were to get married in a state where it was legal, it would be considered legal at a federal level. That could impact social security, federal income taxes and hundreds of other rights.

It would also require the state the person lives in to recognize that marriage as well.

What it does not do is force states to issue marriage licenses to all couples, or force religious organizations to participate in unions they feel go against their religion. It does not directly discuss whether private businesses can be forced by law to provide goods or services to gay marriages.

While same-sex marriages has been a highly discussed issue, the same protections would be given to interracial marriages as well, which is also protected by Obergefell v. Hodges.

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