Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe and as Congress considered legislation that would guarantee the rights and benefits of all marriages, the HRC sent letters from Pennsylvanians urging Toomey to support the respect for marriage law.
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania—As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act before the end of September, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) today brought the voices of pro-equality Pennsylvanians directly to the desk from Senator Toomey in Pittsburgh, delivering more than 1,500 letters urging the senator to vote “yes” on legislation to codify the right of same-sex and interracial couples to marry. The bill will secure the rights, benefits, and obligations of marriages in federal code, repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and affirm that public acts, records, and procedures must be recognized by all states. Senator Toomey is undecided on the bill.
The delivery of the letter builds on growing momentum, as the HRC mobilized more than 220 businesses to support the bill, which passed the House in a vote of 267 to 157, with 47 Republicans voting for. This week, 400 Republican leaders across the country called on the Senate to pass legislation that enshrines the protection of same-sex marriage. The Senate will now need 60 votes in order to defeat a filibuster. According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage. Twelve of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressmen voted in favor of the bill.
Ryan Matthews, Human Rights Campaign Director for the State of Pennsylvania, said:
“Amid an outpouring of grassroots, corporate and bipartisan support for marriage equality, Senator Toomey’s voters are asking him to side with the 71% Americans and the 69% Pennsylvanians who recognize that LGBTQ+ people are dignified and deserve love and equality, and vote yes on the Respect for Marriage Act With a Supreme Court ready to overturn decades of precedent, now is the time to codify finally marriage equality and ensuring that interracial and same-sex couples have the right to love and marry the person they love.
Below is additional background information about supporting marriage equality in Pennsylvania and across the country, as well as an overview of key provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act.
A majority of Pennsylvanians are pro-Marriage Equality.
Pennsylvania is home to more than 3 million voters for equality, a constituency of demographically and geographically diverse people united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality. Equality Voters are younger, more racially diverse and more female than the general electorate, they recognize and trust the HRC brand, and they are more likely to identify with issue-specific organizations than to candidates or political parties.
More than two-thirds of Americans support marriage equality.
According to Gallup, 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage. The latest PRRI survey this year found that support for marriage equality has increased by 14 percentage points since 2014 (54%). Republicans are now almost evenly split on marriage equality (48% support, 50% opposition), while 81% of Democrats and 73% of independents favor marriage equality. Today, majorities of most religious groups support marriage equality. According to the last census, about 58% (568,000) of couples in the country’s 980,000 same-sex households were married and about 42% were unmarried partners.
The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that marriage equality is protected nationwide through several provisions:
Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act of the 1990s. Adopted in 1996, it discriminated in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA seeks to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the Act excludes all same-sex couples, regardless of marital status, from all federal laws, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people, thereby denying them more than 1,100 benefits and federal protections. DOMA was rendered inapplicable, in two stages, by the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court Windsor v. United States decision and the 2015 Oberfell v. Hodges decision.
Establishing this “celebration venue” is the standard for recognition of federal benefits of a same-sex marriage. Under this provision, if marriage equality were to cease to be recognized in a given state, same-sex couples who travel to marry in another state – a state where same-sex marriages are still recognized – would still retain federal marriage benefits.
Affirming that public documents, records and procedures must be recognized by all States. Adoption orders, divorce decrees and other public acts must be honored by all states in accordance with the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are considered full members of society at home, at work and in every community.