President Biden signs Respect for Marriage Act, BJC’s Hollman praises law as ‘affirmation of religious freedom’
President Joe Biden has signed into law the historic Respect for Marriage Act, after the U.S. House voted to pass the Senate’s version of the bill. It requires states to recognize marriages that are lawfully performed in other states, including same-sex and interracial marriages. The Act ensures that such marriages would remain protected if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns decisions like Obergefell or Loving, which held that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex and interracial marriage, respectively.
As BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman explained in a statement lauding the bill’s enactment, the Respect for Marriage Act is a historic achievement for both marriage equality and religious freedom:
We applaud Congress and President Biden for ensuring that marriages of interracial and same-sex couples across the country are now better protected under the law.
This bipartisan act is also an affirmation of religious freedom. This law acknowledges religious differences about marriage while ensuring that states recognize the important civil rights that are tied to marriage under various state and federal laws.
The Respect for Marriage Act is a shining example of how our country’s separation of the institutions of religion and government protects the rights of all. Religious marriage and civil marriage are not the same, and lawmakers have advanced protections for civil marriage without sacrificing the distinctiveness of religious marriage. Religious institutions are free to define marriage within their own traditions while interracial and same-sex couples can freely enjoy the rights and privileges of civil marriage.
For more on the Respect for Marriage Act’s passage, see my previous post. You can also hear an in-depth discussion on this legislation in a recent episode of BJC’s Respecting Religion podcast, as Holly Hollman and Amanda Tyler discuss the important distinctions between the civil institution of marriage and the religious institution of marriage.