NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act Tuesday that will require the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial marriages.
Gay marriage became legal nationwide in 2015 through the Supreme Court decision, however, renewed calls to have legislation protecting it grew after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Debby Pastrich-Klemer from Northampton got married to her partner after it was legalized in New York in 2011. Now, breathing a sigh of relief as the Respect for Marriage Act passes the hardest hurdle to being protected by a legislative act.
“We met through mutual friends in New York. This was their first match and it was a success,” said Pastrich-Klemer.
Dallas Ducar, a local LGBTQ activist, told 22News it was odd to see her rights up for a vote in the first place. “This is settled law of the land. This is accepted by so many individuals across our country so it was strange, but also I was filled with joy,” said Ducar.
The bill would protect legal same-sex marriage under federal law. However, it would not require a state to give a marriage license that’s in conflict with state law. It also featured an amendment that would not require religious institutions to hold same-sex weddings.
The bill comes as attitudes towards gay marriage have changed.
According to Gallup, support of gay marriage was at 27 percent in 1996, now it’s up to 71 percent as of June.
“When I first came out, my mom told me ‘well nobody needs to know about that.’ You know, now I can hold my head high, wear my ring, and not have to worry about it here.” Debby Pastrich-Klemer of Northampton
The bill will now head back to the House before heading to President Biden’s desk.