On July 19, Thompson joined 156 other Republican House members in opposing the Respect for Marriage Act. Congressional Democrats are pushing the legislation in response to the Supreme Court last month overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that for nearly a half-century guaranteed women the right to abortion. The court’s ruling sparked fears that other high-profile precedents could be next.
After the vote but before the wedding, Thompson’s press secretary denounced the legislation as a political sleight-of-hand designed to distract voters.
“This bill was nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats in Congress who have failed to address historic inflation and out of control prices at gas pumps and grocery stores,” Stone said in an email to the Centre Daily Times.
Stone did not respond to The Post’s question about what Gawker, which first reported the news, described as the “apparent hypocrisy” of the congressman celebrating his son’s wedding after voting against federal legislation that would guarantee his son the right to have that wedding.
The Respect for Marriage Act is a fail-safe. At the moment, the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges bars states from banning same-sex marriages. In addition to protecting same-sex marriages, the Respect for Marriage Act would also enshrine the right for interracial couples to marry, something that’s protected by the Court’s 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia.
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Democrats’ fears were fanned by Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the decision that overturned Roe. In that opinion, Thomas wrote that the same legal rationale the court used to topple Roe could be used to reverse other decisions, The Post reported.
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to rulings that established rights to contraception, same-sex relationships and marriage equality, respectively. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’ … we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”
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Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” when it guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage with Obergefell, which he said “ignored two centuries of our nation’s history,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
“Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states,” Cruz said in a YouTube clip posted on July 16. “We saw states before Obergefell that were moving, some states were moving to allow gay marriage, other states were moving to allow civil partnerships.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Cruz’s comments should raise concerns, The Post reported. “As we know from the Dobbs decision, one of the things that we saw from [Thomas] is that they are looking to go further, whether it’s privacy, contraception or marriage equality,” she said.
Most Americans support same-sex marriage. Last week, Marquette Law School released a poll showing that two-thirds of respondents back the Supreme Court’s decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.
On June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Obergefell, Thompson’s reaction to the news suggested there was a gap between what he believed and what he thought was good public policy.
“Regardless of my personal beliefs and my continued support for states’ rights, today’s ruling must be followed by adequate Congressional oversight in order to assure that federal protections the Supreme Court has granted to same-sex couples does not infringe upon the religious liberties of others,” he said in a statement to PennLive.com.
Thompson’s son confirmed that his father attended his wedding to NBC News but focused on the fact that he “married the love of [his] life.”
Having cleared the House, the fate of the Respect for Marriage Act now lies with the Senate. The legislation faces an uncertain future given that, in the evenly divided Senate, it must win unanimous Democratic support and 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster.