Congress passes the Respect for Marriage Act, sending the bill to president’s desk

The act enshrines into federal law marriage equality for same same-sex and interracial couples.
6:06 | 12/08/22

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Transcript for Congress passes the Respect for Marriage Act, sending the bill to president’s desk
STANTON, WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME TODAY AND THE WORK YOU DID HERE. >> THANK YOU. AND THE HOUSE IS VOTING TODAY ON THE RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT. THE ACT ENSHRINES INTO FEDERAL LAW MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR SAME SEX AND INTERRACIAL COUPLES. I WANT TO BRING IN ABC NEWS SENIOR POLICY REPORTER AND FLORIDA, AS WELL AS JAY O'BRIEN ON CAPITOL HILL FOR MORE ON THAT. AND WHAT HAS THE PROCESS BEEN LIKE GETTING THIS LEGISLATION PASSED? >> WELL, DIANE, THIS IS A REMARKABLY CLEAN PROCESS. THE HOUSE BROUGHT UP THIS BILL LAST JULY, AND IT'S ONLY TAKEN FOUR MONTHS FOR ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS DEBATES THAT THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER HAD, WHICH IS A FEDERAL RIGHT FOR SAME SEX MARRIAGE. I THINK WHAT'S REMARKABLE THAT I FOUND IN SOME OF MY REPORTING WAS HOW THIS CAME TOGETHER IN THE SENATE. SO THIS IS A MUCH TOUGHER HILL TO CLIMB WITH THOSE REQUIRED 60 VOTES. AND WE LEARNED THAT GOP DONORS ARE AMONG THOSE WHO PICKED UP THE PHONE AND URGED LAWMAKERS TO PASS THIS BILL. THEY WANT THIS OFF THE TABLE OF TWENTY, TWENTY FOUR. WE ALSO HEARD ABOUT UNEXPECTED ALLIANCES. WE HAD KIRSTEN SINEMA, WHO IS THE FIRST OPENLY BISEXUAL SENATOR. SHE FORMED AN ALLIANCE WITH THE CHURCH OF LATTER DAY OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS, WIDELY KNOWN AS THE MORMON CHURCH. AND THEY HASHED OUT A COMPROMISE ON HOW TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. REALLY UNPRECEDENTED HERE. >> SO, JAKE, TALK TO US ABOUT THE PROTECTIONS IN THIS BILL. >> WHAT SPECIFICALLY DOES THIS LEGISLATION DO? SO THE MOTIVATION FOR THIS LEGISLATION, AT LEAST IN THE NEAR TERM, CAME OUT OF THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURNING ROE V. WADE AND THAT DISSENTING OPINION FROM JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS THAT SINGLED OUT OTHER CONSTITUTE NATIONAL RIGHTS THAT WERE GRANTED VIA SUPREME COURT DECISION. ONE WAS OVERFILL V. HODGES, WHICH WAS THE RIGHT TO SAME MARRIAGE. THE OTHER WAS THE RIGHT TO INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE. SO THAT'S WHERE THIS RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT COMES FROM. IT OBVIOUSLY GETS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE AND THEN IT GOES TO THE SENATE. HAS THOSE CHANGES AND TALKED ABOUT NOW IT'S BACK IN THE HOUSE FOR THE VOTE THIS MORNING. WHAT NOW WHAT THE LAW DOES OR WHAT THE WHAT THE BILL DOES IS IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY CODIFY THAT SUPREME COURT DECISION, BUT WHAT IT DOES DO AND WHAT IT ACCOMPLISHES THROUGH DOING THIS IS IT MAKES SURE THAT STATES HAVE TO RESPECT OTHER SAME SEX MARRIAGES IN OTHER STATES. AND THAT'S HOW IT EVENTUALLY ESSENTIALLY, AS YOU HEAR TALK, CODIFIES SAME SEX MARRIAGE INTO FEDERAL LAW, WHICH AGAIN POINTED OUT HAS BEEN A CONTENTIOUS ISSUE FOR DECADES. NOW. AND YOU SAY LOBBYISTS AND HILL STAFFERS ARE CALLING THIS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CIVIL RIGHTS DEALS TO PASS CONGRESS IN YEARS. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS OR ARE WE WITNESSING HISTORY RIGHT NOW? >> I THINK ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, I ASKED SOME EXPERTS, WOULD YOU CONSIDER THIS A CIVIL RIGHTS BILL? AND THEY SAID THIS PROTECTS BOTH THE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY RIGHTS OF CHURCHES. IT PRESERVES THEIR TAX-EXEMPT STATUS. IT SAYS THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO RECOGNIZE SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND AT THE SAME TIME, IT PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF LGBTQ AMERICANS TO HAVE THIS FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED RIGHT TO MARRY. NOW, AS JAY NOTED, IT IS VERY NARROW. IT DOESN'T RESOLVE THESE ISSUES THAT WE HAVE WITH PRIVATE INDUSTRY AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY CAN REFUSE SERVICE TO SOMEBODY. BUT I THINK THAT'S HOW THE BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE WAS ABLE TO GET DONE. NOW, I'VE ASKED MANY PEOPLE, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THIS COULD BE A TEMPLATE FOR OTHER BIPARTISAN COMPROMISES, SUCH AS ABORTION? >> THEY SAID THAT'S A LITTLE BIT TOO SOON AT THIS POINT. SO, JAY, WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS WITH THIS LEGISLATION? >> WELL, ONCE IT PASSES, THE HOUSE, AS YOU KNOW, IS VERY MUCH EXPECTED TO DO, IT GOES TO A CEREMONY THAT SPEAKER PELOSI AND CHUCK SCHUMER WILL HOLD IN A ROOM THAT'S ACTUALLY NOT FAR FROM HERE. IT WILL BE SIGNED BY PELOSI, BY SCHUMER, THAT IT WILL GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE WHERE PRESIDENT BIDEN IS OBVIOUSLY VERY MUCH EXPECTED TO SIGN IT. SPEAKER PELOSI MADE THE POINT TO SAY THAT SHE IS PARTICULARLY HAPPY. THAT WAS HER QUOTE. FORGIVE ME. IT LOOKS LIKE WE'VE JUST GOT PASSAGE. AND THE REASON I KNOW THAT IS A BECAUSE I'M HEARING IT FROM THE CONTROL ROOM, BUT, B, YOU CAN HEAR THE CHEERS FROM THE HOUSE CHAMBER, WHICH IS NOT FAR FROM ME HERE. YOU HEAR APPLAUDING AND CLAPPING. IT'S ECHOING ALL THE WAY OUT HERE. AND THERE'S THE CHAMBER THERE. SO YOU'RE SEEING IN FRONT OF YOU, YOU SEE LAWMAKERS APPLAUDING. I DON'T HAVE MY GLASSES ON. I CAN'T QUITE SEE WHO IT IS BECAUSE I'M TRYING TO LOOK THROUGH THE DOOR. THAT'S NOT FAR FROM ME HERE. BUT AGAIN, PASSAGE, A HISTORIC MOMENT, SOMETHING THAT AT ONE POINT IN THIS COUNTRY WAS CONSIDERED AN EXTREMELY CONTENTIOUS ISSUE, PASSING WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. >> AND THAT JUST HAPPENED. YOU DEFINITELY A CELEBRATED TONE THERE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. APPLAUSE AS YOU SAID, JANE, EVEN SOMEONE LOOKED LIKE THEY WERE RAISING THE ROOF TO MARK THIS OCCASION. AND BIG PICTURE, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? YOU KNOW, I THINK THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT STEP FORWARD FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS. THIS IS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT MOST PUBLIC OPINION, IT'S REALLY TURNED ON ITS HEAD. WE HAD SURVEYS FROM 1996 WHERE ONLY A QUARTER OF AMERICANS SUPPORTED SAME SEX MARRIAGE. NOW YOU'RE LOOKING AT 70 PLUS PERCENT OF AMERICANS SUPPORT THIS. AND YOU KNOW, DIANE, I ALSO WANT TO TO NOTE WE'VE GOTTEN WORD THAT CONGRESSMAN, FORMER CONGRESSMAN BARNEY FRANK WAS ON THAT FLOOR. HE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST OPENLY GAY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. HE'S REALLY PAVED THE WAY FOR THIS. HE FOUGHT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. SO NOTABLE THAT HE'S ON THE FLOOR RIGHT NOW. I JUST THINK THAT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WILL LOOK BACK ON. IT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN'T ERASE. AND I THINK THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO THE SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND SAME SEX COUPLES THAT ARE MARRIED RIGHT NOW. >> JAY, ANY ANYMORE LEGISLATION PLANNED IN THIS DIRECTION OR DOES THIS FEEL LIKE A WATERSHED MOMENT? AND THEY'RE MOVING ON FROM THIS ,AT LEAST FOR THE TIME BEING? >> WELL, IT'S ABSOLUTELY A WATERSHED MOMENT. AND IT WAS LEGISLATION THAT DEMOCRATS WANTED TO GET DONE IN THE LAME DUCK CONGRESS. THEY WANTED TO GET IT DONE BEFORE REPUBLICANS TOOK CONTROL OF THE HOUSE COME JANUARY. AND SO THE NOTION THAT OTHER THINGS COMING DOWN THE PIKE IS SOMEWHAT UNCLEAR BECAUSE THIS IS SOMETHING THAT DEMOCRATS PUT A LOT OF ENERGY INTO TO GET IT DONE. AS I SAID EARLIER, WITHIN WHAT IS FOR LEGISLATION LIKE THIS, A RELATIVELY TIGHT WINDOW, AND PARTICULARLY TO GET IT DONE BEFORE REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF THE HOUSE COME JANUARY. AND SO THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT, AGAIN, SPEAKER PELOSI SAID IT WAS A PRIORITY FOR HER. ONE OF THE LAST PIECES OF LEGISLATION THAT THAT

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