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Utah's GOP congressmen vote for bill to write same-sex marriage into law

Rep. Burgess Owens, left, Rep. Blake Moore and Rep. Chris Stewart, all Utah Republicans, pose for photos at the Awaken Event Center in South Jordan after each won their primary race on June 28. Utah's four Republican congressmen joined all House Democrats in passing a bill Tuesday that would write same-sex marriage into law.

Rep. Burgess Owens, left, Rep. Blake Moore and Rep. Chris Stewart, all Utah Republicans, pose for photos at the Awaken Event Center in South Jordan after each won their primary race on June 28. Utah's four Republican congressmen joined all House Democrats in passing a bill Tuesday that would write same-sex marriage into law. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

WASHINGTON — Utah's four Republican congressmen joined all House Democrats in passing a bill Tuesday that would write same-sex marriage into law.

In all, 47 GOP House members crossed party lines in the bipartisan 267-157 vote for the Respect for Marriage Act.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said the majority opinion of the Supreme Court clearly stated that the court has no intention of reversing any decisions respecting the right to marriage in the Constitution.

"That said, I also understand how important codifying these protections are to many Utahns. I do not believe the federal government should infringe upon an individual's decision about who they wish to marry," he said in a statement.

Democrats loudly cheered from their side of the chamber as the bill passed, according to Politico. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., voted no.

"This bill makes crystal clear that every couple and their children has the fundamental freedom to take pride in their marriage and have their marriage respected under the law," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in floor remarks.

A 2015 Supreme Court decision required states to recognize same-sex marriages, but Democrats urged a codification of the policy in the wake of the court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last month, according to Politico. In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas voiced support for reconsidering the court's earlier same-sex marriage ruling.

The short bill, which has an uncertain path in the evenly divided Senate, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also require states to recognize same-sex marriages, as long as it was valid in the state in which it occurred.

Rep. John Curtis speaks during the GOP Convention at the Mountain America Convention Center is Sandy, Utah, on April 23. Utah's four Republican congressmen joined all House Democrats in passing a bill Tuesday that would write same-sex marriage into law.
Rep. John Curtis speaks during the GOP Convention at the Mountain America Convention Center is Sandy, Utah, on April 23. Utah's four Republican congressmen joined all House Democrats in passing a bill Tuesday that would write same-sex marriage into law. (Photo: Adam Fondren, Deseret News)

Last month, state Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, unveiled legislation to codify the right to marry in Utah after the leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion on abortion worried many about rights to marry, use contraceptives and receive in vitro fertilization.

Although the Supreme Court ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriages, 29 states — including Utah — have what Kitchen called "trigger bans" in place which would go into effect if the current court overturns the landmark 2015 decision.

Kitchen, who lost his reelection bid in the Democratic Party primary last month, was a plaintiff in the 2013 court case that helped Utah become the first state to recognize gay marriage after a federal ruling.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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