KLOBUCHAR: “This is the kind of bill that should get 100 votes. It's about equality. It's about dignity. And it's about love.”
WASHINGTON - On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) praised the Senate advancement of the Respect for Marriage Act, bipartisan legislation to protect marriage equality. The Respect for Marriage Act would require that states respect same-sex marriages legally entered into in other states, and ensure that all married couples enjoy equal treatment under federal law.
“We have before us a bill that requires states and the federal government to respect marriages legally entered into in other states, regardless of the sex or race of the people who are married. This is the kind of bill that should get 100 votes. It's about equality. It's about dignity. And it's about love,” said Klobuchar. “It's about saying we won't go back to the days when a patchwork of state laws determined whether the union of two people who loved each other would be recognized by their government.”
“This bipartisan vote today and the one in the coming days is about saying no, we will not go backwards,” Klobuchar continued. “That's not what America is about. We should all be able to agree that states shouldn't be able to discriminate against people based on who they love.”
Mr./Madam President, I rise in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which I’m proud to be a cosponsor.
I come from a state that has long been at the cutting edge of progress. Minnesota began protecting LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination in 1993. At that time, it was the first and only state in the nation to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity. And two decades later, in 2013, we became the 12th state to legalize marriage equality.
Across the country, other states have made advances as well. Today, 23 states have laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And in 2015, the Supreme Court recognized that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.
But as far as we have come, we still have miles to go until LGBTQ Americans can live their lives with freedom, authenticity, and equality. And we must also make sure we protect the progress we’ve made.
As we know from what happened recently from the Dobbs decision, as we know, rights that people take for granted, nearly 50 years of Roe v. Wade can vanish with one mark of a pen, with one signature on a piece of paper. And in fact, when it comes to gay marriage, when it comes to the protections granted by the Obergefell case, this was actually raised in one of the justice’s written opinions. We know that this is on the chopping block.
And that is why, when a Supreme Court justice signaled that the hard-won, legal protection for marriage equality could be on that chopping block, putting the legal rights of countless married couples and families in jeopardy, we felt, a number of Republicans and Democrats on a bipartisan basis, that we had to step in. That's why we're here.
The way I see it, all three branches of government have a responsibility to protect people's rights. And if one branch doesn't do its job, this is why our system of government was set up this way brilliantly. If one branch doesn't do its job, then it's up to another to step in. Yes, it's a system of checks and balances. Checks if someone's power is out of control, as I believe here happened, out of the mainstream, out of consistency with the American people. That's a check. That's why we have it this way.
And that is why you're seeing today, thanks to the leadership of our friends, Senator Feinstein, Senator Baldwin, Senator Collins, Senator Sinema, Senator Portman, Senator Tillis, and so many others, that we have reached a bipartisan agreement to move this bill forward.
As you know, in July the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act to protect marriage equality. They did that on a bipartisan basis as well, 47 Republicans voted for that bill in the House of Representatives. For our Senate bill, I will note that the bipartisan text also has broad support, from faith-based organizations to more than 250 businesses, including Minnesota's own Target and Best Buy.
We have before us a bill that requires states and the federal government to respect marriages legally entered into in other states, regardless of the sex or race of the people who are married. This is the kind of bill that should get 100 votes. It's about equality. It's about dignity. And it's about love.
It's about saying we won't go back to the days when a patchwork of state laws determined whether the union of two people who loved each other would be recognized by their government. That we won't go back to the days when a gay soldier killed on the battlefield was denied the respect of official notification of next of kin. And we won't go back to the days of hospital patients being left to spend their final moments alone, without the person they love most by their side.
This bipartisan vote today and the one in the coming days is about saying no, we will not go backwards. We will not go backwards in this chamber. We will not follow the way the Supreme Court has been going when it comes to folding back rights and denying rights. That's not what America is about. We should all be able to agree that states shouldn't be able to discriminate against people based on who they love.
This bill gives each and every one of my colleagues the opportunity to make that statement. We know that there is more to be done to make sure all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, but this is an important step toward ensuring no American experiences discrimination because of who they love.
This is a great moment. It's a wonderful moment because my colleagues were able to reach an agreement across the aisle. It's a wonderful moment because we're fulfilling our constitutional duty of checks and balances. It’s a moment of joy.
We have to remember that sometimes in our job, we have these moments that actually people say “thank you for what you just did.” They stop you in an airport, as the presiding officer knows, and say “thank you.” A lot of people are going to be saying that this week, because they know this is the right thing to do, regardless of people's political views, regardless of their religious beliefs, why we are so proud that so many religious organizations are supporting this bill. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.