The Respect for Marriage Act was passed by Congress on Thursday, December 8. The landmark civil rights bill will now move onto President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The bill passed 258 to 169. Apart from every Democrat voting for it, 39 Republicans also were in favor of codifying protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.

When the measure passed the Senate late last month, 61-36, some key changes were made to the original proposal in an effort to win over more conservative votes.

The passing of the bill was celebrated on Twitter by prominent Democratic politicians like Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

 The purpose of the act is to directly counteract the language of the existing Defense of Marriage Act and effectively repeal the bill that was first signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Here is what ROMA seeks to achieve.

To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act

In the case of United States v. Windsor from 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional and thus, forced the federal government to recognise same-sex marriages conducted in the 50 states. Similarly, in the case of Obergefell v Hodges from 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the entirety of DOMA was unconstitutional since same-sex marriage was a fundamental right and thus all states were required to recognise and perform marriages for same-sex couples. 

Legal protections for couples: 

The ROMA will effectively make it illegal from any state or government official from denying a same-sex marriage based on any criteria, including their sex, race, ethnicity or nation of origin. In addition, it provides an attorney general the power to ensure that a marriage is carried out while also ensuring that people can choose a course of action if they feel they haven’t been afforded access to ROMA.

Also Read: US House votes to protect same-sex marriages, amid abortion rights concerns

Marriage equality: 

ROMA will consider individuals married if their marriage was valid in the state that it was performed. This provision of ROMA ensures that both same-sex and interracial couples will have the same access to the full suite of rights afforded to other married couples.

Interestingly, ROMA was a bipartisan bill that was introduced by two Democrats; Senator Dianne Fienstein of California and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and a Republican; Susan Collins from Maine. ROMA passed 256-147 with 47 of the winning votes coming from Republicans. It will likely be harder for the bill to pass in the Senate.