SUDDES: Congratulations in order for House voting to codify same-sex and interracial marriage

Thomas Suddes is a former legislative reporter with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and writes from Ohio University. You can reach him at tsuddes@gmail.com.

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Thomas Suddes is a former legislative reporter with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and writes from Ohio University. You can reach him at tsuddes@gmail.com.

A shout-out and a standing ovation for eight Ohio members of the U.S. House – including four Ohio Republicans – who stood up to protect same-sex and interracial marriage.

On July 19, by a vote of 267-157 – with 220 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting “yes” – the House passed and sent the Senate the Respect for Marriage bill. Its Senate prospects are uncertain, but Sen. Rob Portman, a Terrace Park Republican, will co-sponsor the measure there.

The bill (H.R. 8404) would require states to recognize marriages between two individuals without regard to the partners’ sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The measure would codify (place in federal law) the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges decision, originating in Ohio, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The bill would also repeal 1996′s so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which purported to let states ban same-sex marriage. And H.R. 8404 would also codify the Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving vs. Virginia decision, which struck down laws in 16 Southern states, including Kentucky and West Virginia, that had forbidden interracial marriage.

Voting “yes” on the Respect for Marriage bill were eight of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House members:

  • Four Ohio Democrats in the House: U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty of Blacklick; Shontel Brown of Warrensville Heights; Marcy Kaptur, of Toledo; and Tim Ryan, of suburban Warren; and,
  • Four Ohio Republicans in the House: U.S. Reps. Mike Carey, of Columbus; Anthony Gonzalez, of Rocky River; David Joyce, of South Russell, in suburban Cleveland; and Mike Turner, of Dayton; while,
  • Ohio’s remaining eight U.S. House Republicans voted “no,” notably if predictably including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, of Urbana, who is to microphones what iron filings are to magnets.

Besides Jordan, the other U.S. House Republicans from Ohio voting against the Respect for Marriage bill were Reps. Troy Balderson, of Zanesville, whose district includes parts of suburban Columbus; Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup, both of Cincinnati; Warren Davidson, of Troy; Bob Gibbs, of Holmes County; Bill Johnson, of Marietta (whose district reaches north to Youngstown); and Bob Latta, of Bowling Green (whose district reaches east into Lorain County).

Helping pass the Respect for Marriage bill were the ominous words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in concurring in the high court’s anti-abortion Dobbs decision.

In that concurrence, Justice Thomas wrote that the high court should reconsider, among other decisions, the Obergefell ruling. In a measure of how serious a threat to Obergefell Thomas’s words are seen to be, consider the congressional timing: The Dobbs ruling, including Thomas’s concurrence, was released June 24; the House passed the Respect for Marriage bill 25 days later. On Capitol Hill that’s lightning fast.

Meanwhile, the Gallup Poll reports that its annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted from May 2 through May 22, found “71% percent of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage, which exceeds the previous high of 70% recorded in 2021.”

That is, the eight Ohio Republicans in the U.S. House who voted “no” on the Respect for Marriage bill got things wrong – as usual. Someday, maybe, Ohio’s entire U.S. House delegation will recognize that it’s now the 21st century, not the 19th.

MEANWHILE: Tuesday is primary election day for seats in Ohio’s House and state Senate, using districts gerrymandered by GOP insiders and imposed on voters by federal judges.

The likely election in November of more hard-right Republican legislators, and post-election jockeying for the Ohio House speakership, will make for a rambunctious 2023-24 legislative session. Bottom line: Next year’s General Assembly session may make this year’s seem like a teddy bear’s picnic.

Thomas Suddes is a former legislative reporter with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and writes from Ohio University. You can reach him at tsuddes@gmail.com.

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