Rep. Casten Votes to Protect Marriage Equality Amid Right-Wing Threats

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U.S. Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) voted Tuesday (July 19, 2022) to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which he co-sponsored, to enshrine marriage equality into federal law by officially repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a defunct and discriminatory statute excluding same-sex couples from marriage under federal law. 

This legislation will also codify new protections ensuring that no married couple can be denied protections and benefits under federal law based on sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that it intends to further rollback our fundamental rights, including marriage equality. We cannot allow them to take away the right to marry who you love,” said Rep. Casten. 

“Today, I voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which I co-sponsored, to protect marriage equality in Illinois and across the country. I’m proud to support this legislation, which will enshrine marriage equality into federal law, prohibiting discrimination against same-sex and interracial couples.”

Congressman Sean Casten

Following the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision overturning Roe v. Wade, right-wing extremists have set their sights on other rulings upholding basic rights and freedoms. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the Court to consider overturning other landmark rulings, including the Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing the Constitutional right to marriage equality.  

The Respect for Marriage Act will take several steps to combat this assault on Illinois freedoms:

  • Enshrining Marriage Equality Into Federal Law: This legislation will require the federal government to fully recognize any marriage considered valid in the state where it was performed – providing same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to receive equal treatment under federal law.
  • Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act: While the Supreme Court has effectively voided the Defense of Marriage Act, this unconstitutional and discriminatory federal law still remains on the books.  The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal this statute once and for all.
  • Barring Discrimination By State Officials: This legislation prohibits state officials from denying recognition of an out-of-state marriage on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.

The Respect for Marriage Act is strongly supported by leading advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

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