Democratic leaders in the U.S. House plan to hold several votes this week to put members on the record about controversial issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. They are even voting to codify contraception even though no one has talked about banning it. The votes are seen as a direct response to a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court voting to overturn Roe v. Wade in its decision in Hobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which returned the legality of abortion to the states.
“As this court may take aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement announcing the votes.
The votes also are seen as a response to associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who brought the legality of same-sex marriage into question in his concurring opinion in the Hobbs case. Justice Samuel Alito clarified in the majority decision that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” but the Hobbs decision “concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right.”
A vote scheduled for Tuesday on the Respect for Marriage Act, which amends the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, will put all Democrats and Republicans on record regarding same-sex marriage. The decades-old bill, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, defined marriage as a heterogeneous relationship between a man and woman. The Supreme Court changed this definition in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, but now the House wants the change codified into law.
The Respect for Marriage Act also provides legal protections for other marriages as it prevents states from denying marriage licenses on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. A vote on contraceptive care is scheduled for later this week.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice