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Kaine Statement on Senate Passage of Respect for Marriage Act

Government and Politics

November 29, 2022


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation which will ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized by every state:

“I am deeply gratified by today’s passage of a bill protecting marriage equality in the United States. In 2006, over my objection, Virginia passed a referendum amending the state constitution to deny any recognition to same-sex relationships. One of my major priorities when I became a Senator was making progress on marriage equality. When I became Senator in 2013, I joined many Senate Democratic colleagues in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing that marriage equality should be the law of the land. I was pleased with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling in June 2015 and assumed that marriage equality was now protected for all.

“The Supreme Court’s shocking decision in the Dobbs case demonstrates that no one can assume that the Court will simply protect the due process and equal protection rights granted by the 14th Amendment. In fact, as argued by Justice Thomas in his concurrence to Dobbs, the current Court’s unwillingness to protect personal autonomy suggests that it may seek to undermine other rights allowing people to live freely and make their own personal decisions without unnecessary governmental interference.

“This is why it’s so important for Congress to affirm for all Americans that the right to marry the person they choose and have that marriage be recognized should not depend on one’s zip code. Advancing this bill forward will be an important step to making good on our promise of equality to all.”

As Governor, Kaine campaigned against a ballot referendum that amended Virginia’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This ban passed despite Kaine’s opposition in 2006 and remains in the Virginia Constitution today. Since the Obergefell decision is currently the law of the land, Obergefell overrides Virginia’s ban. However, if the Supreme Court strikes down Obergefell, the right of Virginians to marry who they love in the Commonwealth would be jeopardized by this ban, unless Virginia repeals the ban.

One of Senator Kaine’s first acts when he was Governor of Virginia was to sign an Executive Order banning discrimination against state employees for sexual orientation. In the U.S. Senate, he was one of 212 members of Congress who signed an amicus brief, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that same-sex married couples should have the same legal security, rights, and responsibilities that federal law provides all other married couples. Kaine is also a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would amend federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.