marriage outside SCOTUS in 2015
Months after Congress affirmed gay marriage with the historic Respect for Marriage Act, a group of eight Iowa Republicans are looking to go in the opposite direction, introducing a bill that would recognize marriage as “the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female.”
As currently written, the joint resolution describes its version of marriage as being only “in accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s God.”
Same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the United States due to a Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges. So even if passed, the Iowa bill would likely be unenforceable—something one of the bill’s co-sponsors acknowledged in an email to NBC News.
“Should the people of Iowa vote for such an amendment, laws would have to be adjusted to make laws fair for all,” State Rep. Brad Sherman, one of the Republicans to introduce the resolution on Tuesday, told the outlet.
A separate group of eight Iowa Republicans introduced another bill on Tuesday with a similar aim. This one, known as HF 508, would make it legal for residents to not acknowledge same-sex marriages on religious grounds, effectively making portions of the Respect for Marriage Act “null and void” in the state.
President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act — which affirms federal acknowledgement of both same-sex and interracial marriages — in December.
Biden signed the landmark bill on the South Lawn of the White House, following the House of Representatives’ final approval of the legislation in a 258-169 vote. The U.S. Senate passed the bill one month prior, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats in support.
“My fellow Americans, that all-consuming, life altering love of commitment: that’s marriage,” Biden said before sitting down to sign the bill.
The Respect for Marriage Act officially appeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defined marriage as involving a man and woman and gave states the authority to refuse recognition of same-sex couples who had married.
It was first introduced in 2009 and, though it passed the House and was moved to the Senate floor in 2011, the Senate vote never occurred. After Obergefell v. Hodges — a landmark civil rights case that reached the Supreme Court, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide on June 26, 2015 — there seemed to be no reason to continue pushing for it — until the events of last year.
On June 24, in the most significant unraveling of human rights in modern history, the heavily conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating pregnant people’s constitutional right to abortion and paving a path to come for contraceptives and same-sex relationships next.
According to LGBTQ advocacy organization, One Iowa, there are currently 29 anti-LGBTQ bills in the Iowa legislature. “From trying to roll back marriage equality to banning drag to gutting the civil rights act, no policy seems too extreme to be introduced and debated in the current climate,” the group said in a tweet.