As expected, the U.S. Senate last night passed the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), legislation that will codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages and require states to recognize such marriages that are performed elsewhere. The final vote was 61-36.
The legislation is necessary in case the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that extended marriage equality nationwide. If that happens, RMA will ensure that states that stop allowing same-sex marriages within their own borders would still have to recognize such unions performed in states where those marriages remain legal.
Christian nationalist groups have been spreading lies about the RMA; AU debunked several of them recently. Remember, these groups have a history of fomenting hysteria about this issue. You might recall their claims, post-Obergefell, that houses of worship would be required to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. Seven years later, we can see that was all nonsense.
In fact, the RMA includes language explicitly protecting religious institutions that oppose marriage equality. The bill maintains the status quo of current law. It’s not radical, and that’s one reason it gained significant Republican support in the Senate and U.S. House, where it passed this summer.
What The Polls Say
So, what’s really going on here? Why are Christian nationalists so worked up? The answer is found in this NBC News story about the RMA: “The Senate vote reflects the rapidly growing public support for legal same-sex marriage, which hit a new high of 71% in Gallup tracking polls in June, up from just 27% in 1996, when Gallup first began polling the issue.”
Support for marriage equality increased by 44 points in 26 years. Pollsters call shifts like that “profound” or “seismic.” It’s also a sign that, no matter what the Supreme Court may do in the future, from a cultural standpoint this issue is settled. A strong majority of Americans now support marriage equality. There is no going back.
On marriage, Christian nationalists lost in courts of law in 2015, which is one reason they targeted the Supreme Court for a takeover. They might spawn some chaos in the years to come, but in the long run, that won’t save them because they’ve lost in a more crucial forum – the court of public opinion. (They’re also on the losing side of history and simple decency.)
The American people reject the Christian nationalists’ views on marriage equality. That’s undoubtedly a bitter pill for these groups, but desperately peddling even more lies and distortions isn’t going to make swallowing it any easier.