KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Federal legislation that would codify protections for same-sex and interracial marriages is up for a final vote in the U.S. House as soon as Thursday.
The move follows lawmaker concerns that the United States Supreme Court could reinterpret existing precedent, possibly dissolving recognition of those marriages.
But some Republicans fear the Respect for Marriage Act would allow for lawsuits against organizations that exclude same-sex married couples from their services.
People who support this law, however, describe this movement as an end to a tremendous amount of anxiety.
“It’s really heartwarming is the only thing I can think of right now,” U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) said.
Davids, the first openly LGBTQ person elected to congress from Kansas, expects a final vote to pass the Respect for Marriage Act on Thursday. It’s an echo of her political beginnings, watching the passage of Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban: 2004’s Amendment 2.
“I remember watching the results of that election. I remember watching on TV, and I just was crying because I was confronted with the fact that there were a lot of people who thought that someone like me shouldn’t be able to get married,” Davids said.
“One of the other things that’s been encouraging is that we’re seeing bipartisan support for this, and I think that’s really where the country is at,” Davids said.
That includes retiring Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, one of 12 Republican Senators who voted in favor of the legislation. But he’s an outlier.
Republican Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) said she believes the legislation sets the stage for lawsuits against religious organizations like schools and homeless shelters.
“We’re especially concerned about faith-based adoption agencies because they often work with the government for placement of children in homes. And if they adhere to their policies that go along with their faith and want to place the children only with a mother and a father as parents, then they could be subject to being sued,” Hartzler said.
The Senate did add a provision to maintain current religious freedom or conscience protections, stating that nonprofit religious organizations or nonprofits that are religious in nature do not need to provide goods, services or accommodations for the celebration of the marriages.
For example, a church that doesn’t support same-sex marriage would not be required to rent out space for such a union.
“The First Amendment is first for a reason. And faith is very important for many people in this country and adhering to the biblical views of marriage and gender should be respected and not trampled on or not silenced by the government. And this bill, sadly, I believe is going to try to do that,” Hartzler said.
Davids disagrees with that viewpoint.
“You can adhere to your personal belief system, and we can have people treated fairly under the law and not being discriminated against,” Davids said.
“If you want to get married and have a family — that you can and you’ll be treated fairly and with respect,” Davids said.
The vote in the U.S. House is happening as Republicans are poised to retake control of the House going into next year.
📲 Download the FOX4 News app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for FOX4 email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on fox4kc.com for Kansas City and all of Kansas and Missouri.