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What Is the Respect for Marriage Act, and Will It Really Codify Same-Sex Marriage?


The overturn of Roe v. Wade on June 24 didn’t only impact reproductive rights; it also brought fear of a ripple effect. With Roe overturned, other cases that were decided based on its precedent could be at risk of reversal, too. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas specifically named Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, and Obergefell v. Hodges (which ruled in favor of birth-control access, same-sex sexual activity, and same-sex marriage, respectively) in his concurring opinion as cases that could potentially be revisited.

Soon after the SCOTUS overturned Roe, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Respect for Marriage Act into Congress in an effort to maintain the legalization of same-sex marriage.


But what, exactly, does the Respect for Marriage Act protect? POPSUGAR spoke with Ashley M. Silberfeld, a partner in the matrimonial and family law practice at Blank Rome LLP, about what this could mean for LGBTQ+ couples.


“The Respect for Marriage Act is groundbreaking in that it’s affirmatively breaking away from the more ‘traditional’ construct of marriage,” Silberfeld says. “It also creates rights for the Department of Justice to bring charges against violations of the law, as well as private rights to sue for such violations. Having such rights included, in my opinion, shows the legislators’ intentions — that they are really serious about protecting the rights of marriage for all individuals, period.”


“While this bill is definitely a step in the right direction to protect all marriages, there’s still a possibility that if it becomes a federal law, it could be overturned by the Supreme Court,” Silberfeld says.

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“What Is the Respect for Marriage Act, and Will It Really Codify Same-Sex Marriage?,” by Melanie Whyte, was published in POPSUGAR on July 26, 2022.