WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Rep. Sharice Davids, the first openly gay person elected to represent Kansas in Congress, said the passage of federal protections for same-sex marriages was “literally, just a relief.”
The bill, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act, passed by Congress Thursday and now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature provides federal protections for same-sex couples regardless of future rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is one less anxiety on the plates of people who are already facing so many things right now in our country,” Davids said.
She said she will never forget when Kansas’ neighbor Missouri voted in 2004 to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“I remember watching TV and crying,” Davids said. “I just remember how deeply it impacted me that there were that many people who didn’t think that someone like me … should be able to start a family.”
She is now part of a Congress sending a much different message.
“I hope people around the country who are watching can see that yes, there are leaders in Washington, D.C., in the halls of Congress that absolutely support their families,” she said.
Twelve Republican senators and 40 Republicans in the House joined Democrats in moving the bill forward, though there was pushback from dozens of other Republicans.
“Honestly, the bill should be called the disrespect for marriage act,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said. “This bill certainly disrespects God’s definition of marriage.”
The bill establishes that religious institutions may not be forced to officiate same-sex marriages but requires states to recognize unions performed in other states.
Davids said Democrats’ ultimate goal is to prevent all forms of discrimination.
“The work is never done,” she said.