The Respect for Marriage Act will ensure that the federal government and all state governments continue to recognize and respect all marriages, without prejudice based on sexual orientation, gender, national origin, ethnicity, or race.
[New York, NY] SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, praises U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) for their leadership on and support of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), which passed with bipartisan support.
The Senate follows the House of Representatives in passing the RMA. In July, thanks to the leadership of Representatives David Cicilline (D- RI) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the House of Representatives passed the bill with a substantial bipartisan majority of 267 members – including 47 Republicans, reflecting the will of the 71% of Americans who support the freedom to marry.
The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) will protect the tens of thousands of married same-sex and interracial couples in our country – and the untold others who have planned their lives around the freedom to marry the person they love.
“LGBTQ+ elders are not strangers to hate – they’ve experienced violence, stigma, and discrimination throughout their lives. So, as we mourn the Club Q massacre, we are keenly aware that the desire to cause us harm and to push our community back into the closet still exists. That is why we are deeply heartened that the Senate has taken this critical step to ensure respect for marriages of same-sex couples across the country,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Edie Windsor, marriage equality trailblazer, joined many thousands of our community’s elders who fought for the freedom to marry over many decades. Today’s vote vindicates their pioneering efforts and is an important step forward for equality.”
RMA affirms that the federal government and all states must recognize the benefits and obligations of marriage even if the Supreme Court chooses to overrule Obergefell v. Hodges and a state bans marriage by people of the same-sex. Marriage is not only something many older LGBTQ+ people have been fighting to have for decades, but for the elders in the community, it offers security. Marriage protects healthcare decision-making, provides economic security, and fosters companionship in the face of potential isolation for LGBTQ+ elders.
“We are overjoyed that our marriage is finally being recognized by members of Congress,” said SAGE elders Pat and Paulette Martin, who have been married for five years. “Marriage is about love, commitment, and family. The freedom to marry touches every part of your life. Let’s rejoice, but also remember we must continue to fight and get the protections our entire community needs.”
While the LGBTQ+ community celebrates this victory today, our movement will not back down – especially in opposing anti-trans legislation being introduced across the country. There is still work to be done. In addition to opposing these bills, federally, we must pass the Equality Act to outlaw discrimination and secure freedoms and safety for all LGBTQ+ people across the U.S.
SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ+ older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBTQ+ elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. Learn more at sageusa.org.