COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A bill protecting the legitimacy of interracial and same-sex marriage passed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday, now heading to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The House voted 258 to 169 in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, requiring a state to recognize a marriage from another state regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals. The bill also revokes the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that recognized marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman.”

Thirty-nine Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure. Four Ohio Republicans — Mike Carey, Anthony Gonzalez, Dave Joyce and Mike Turner — joined the four Ohio Democrats to support the measure. The other eight Ohio Republicans voted against.

What the bill means for marriage in Ohio

The act comes after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that guaranteed the right to abortion. A concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to reconsider other rulings that used similar reasoning, like the right to privacy. Among those decisions was Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in June 2015. 

“I think [Roe v. Wade] being overturned was a wake-up call for a lot of people,” said Maria Bruno, public policy director of Equality Ohio — a group dedicated to furthering equality for LGBTQ+ people. “There were a lot of people who assumed that a Supreme Court precedent would stand the test of time in a way that it unfortunately hasn’t.” 

However, the Respect for Marriage Act would not offer all the same protections in place by Obergefell, especially in Ohio. Should the Court deem same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the bill would allow states to determine whether to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Ohio, along with 25 other states, have statutes and constitutional amendments in place that had prohibited same-sex marriage and would be reenacted if Obergefell were overturned, according to a report from the Movement Advancement Project

In 2004, state lawmakers added language to the Ohio Revised Code that banned same-sex marriage, affirming that “a marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman.” That same year, Ohio passed an amendment to the state’s constitution that read, “Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.” 

Should the Supreme Court overturn Obergefell, the Respect for Marriage Act would require Ohio only to recognize same-sex marriages from states where it is legal.

Seventy-one percent of Americans

Through a 61 to 36 vote, Ohio Senator Rob Portman and 11 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in passing the measure in the Senate on Nov. 30. Portman announced his support for same-sex marriage in 2013 after his son came out as gay.

“Today there are about a million same-sex households, about 60% of them are married,” Portman said on the Senate floor. “In the minds of most Americans, the validity of these marriages is a settled question and the overwhelming majority of Americans want this question to be settled.”

Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be recognized as valid by law, according to a recent Gallup poll. In addition, polling from 2021 shows 55% of Republicans support the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. 

“I think a large majority of Americans, Republican or Democrat, support same-sex marriage,” Bruno said. “I think that elected Republicans recognize that this is a pretty noncontroversial, straightforward issue.” 

The House originally voted to pass the legislation in July. However, an amendment added to the bill in the Senate meant the House needed to vote for the measure a second time.

The bill’s amended version further outlines protections for religious liberty and confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services. It also guarantees that the bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right or status and makes clear that the bill does not require or authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages.