Illinois LGBTQ rights groups say Respect for Marriage Act is good first step, not end of the fight

Craig Wall Image
Friday, December 9, 2022
Illinois reacts to passage of Respect for Marriage Act
The Respect for Marriage Act protects same sex and interracial marriages, and passed the House of Representatives Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Congress took historic action Thursday as the House voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, codifying gay marriage. The measure is now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature.

The law passed with bipartisan support in the House. Democrats worked to get the vote done before the Republicans take over next year. The vote is cause for celebration in the LGBTQ community here.

The Respect of Marriage Act, which gives federal recognition to gay marriage.

The cheers were shared by Anna DeShawn, founder and host of E3 radio, an online station catering to LGBTQ listeners.

Anna and her wife Kaya got married in 2017, and she said the law helps take the sting out of so much of the recent negative rhetoric her community has endured.

"The fact that I can be anywhere in this country and my marriage is still my marriage, and we still have the rights that we have here in Chicago anywhere in the country. That means something it means a whole lot," she said.

The new law will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which under federal law had defined a marriage as between a man and a woman.

The law is particularly important to gay rights activists who worry that after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, that marriage equality could be next.

"It is definitely a win, but it is a win with limits, Right?" said Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. "The House and the Senate have had to do this because we have a Supreme Court that is on a record trying to come after some of our basic freedoms. They did it with Dobbs, overruling Roe and in that decision Justice Thomas says it's time to revisit marriage equality."

Same sex marriage has been legal in Illinois since 2013 and so nothing will really change here.

"So no matter what happens with the Supreme Court, Illinoisans will have marriage equality, what this means for us and why we're cautiously happy about it is it will extend some of our protections to the federal government and other states," Johnson said.

The law also codifies the right to interracial marriage.

"It feels like we aren't going back in time. For a moment it feels like we're actually moving forward to where we want to see which is liberation, which is equality, which is equity. And that feels good," DeShawn said.

The Respect for Marriage Act does not set a national requirement that all states must license gay marriage but it does require individual states to recognize same sex and interracial marriages performed in another state.