Respect for Marriage Act may not be enough protection for gay marriage

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, the House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to provide protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. 

Democrats say this legislation is needed and dozens of Republicans joined them in passing it, but local advocates and analysts say this fight for rights is just beginning. 

"In the wake of the Dobbs decision, with marriage rights now squarely in Republican crossfires, Democrats are ferociously fighting back. With a landmark Respect for Marriage Act, we ensure that marriage equality remains the law of the land now and for generations to come," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

With a vote of 267-157, and dozens of Republican joining Democrats, the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday. The bill includes protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. 

"It was nice hearing that the House of Representatives were taking this action, and I’m not negative about it at all. I just know that we really can’t fool ourselves and somehow thinking that this is going to provide the safeguards that our community needs," said Ken Yeager.  

Yeager, Santa Clara County’s first openly gay Supervisor, is now the Executive Director of the BAYMEC Community Foundation, an advocacy group that supports the LGBTQ+ community. 

"I had the privilege of performing the first marriages. So it was a great day, you know, we raised the rainbow flag. There is some protection in CA. I don’t think we have to worry too much about that. It’s just that you want people in whatever state they’re in, to be able to have that joy," Yeager said. 

MORE: House votes for protections for same-sex and interracial marriages

Historically in midterm elections the sitting president loses seats. With midterm elections in November, political scientist Melissa Michelson says Democrats may feel pressure to take action. 

"Issues like this where the Democrats can say well they might be coming for this next. They might be coming for contraception next, they might be coming for same-sex marriage next. It’s a way for them to build up enthusiasm for voting in the fall, which is pretty important to them right now, given that Biden’s approval ratings are so low," Michelson said.  

The Senate still needs to pass this legislation and without making predictions, both Yeager and Michelson say it could be a real challenge to get enough Senate votes to pass it.