258-169. That’s the final vote tally in the House of Representatives for the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), which repeals the odious anti-equality Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996.
DOMA legally defined marriage as between “a man and a woman” and declared that a same-sex marriage didn’t have to be recognized by other states. A big deal considering the very patchwork nature of marriage for LGBTQ+ people early on where only a handful of states had marriage equality written into law. RFMA is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk and he has already said he will sign it.
A win! Right?
Well, yes and no. I mean, it’s good that DOMA is dead. Good riddance to hateful rubbish. But it’s a super bummer that we need RFMA in preparation for the not-at-all unlikely scenario where the Supreme Court overturns marriage equality just like they did abortion rights. That super sucks. Should that happen, marriage equality will once again be left to the will of individual states. RFMA doesn’t make marriage equality legal nationwide.
RFMA received some Republican support because of a “religious freedom” carveout in the bill.
“Diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises,” a bill draft reads. “Therefore, Congress affirms that such people and their diverse beliefs are due proper respect.”
Let me state for the record that it is entirely unreasonable for someone to declare that my marriage makes their god sad and thus my marriage isn’t legitimate or equal to a marriage between a cisgender man and cisgender woman. It’s also not honorable, no matter how sincere, to disparage my family and our humanity.
Separation of church and state. Your religion doesn’t get to dictate my life. And I don’t get to dictate your religion. If my queer existence is an affront to your religious sensibilities, tough shit. I don’t care if you don’t like it.
Still, without Republicans, RFMA wouldn’t have passed. So I get it. But I’m still gonna bitch about it.
Of course, RFMA also received a lot of Republican opposition. One particularly outspoken critic was U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) who was moved to tears at the prospect of people she does not approve of experiencing love and happiness.
“[RFMA] is yet another step toward the Democrats’ goal of dismantling the traditional family, silencing voices of faith, and permanently undoing our country’s God-woven foundation,” she said on the House floor. She then began crying. “I hope and pray that my colleagues will find the courage to join me in opposing this misguided and this dangerous bill.”
Oh FFS, Vicky. Get a grip. God’s weaving is fine and voices of faith are still given way too much deference in a country that claims to separate church and state. Case in point: you saying these words into a microphone on the House floor. A religious person in a position of power with a wide reaching platform. Gosh, what a rarity.
Granted, Rep. Hartzler was dragged on social media for her tearful performance; in particular, a TikTok video made by Andrew Hartzler, her gay nephew, has gotten millions of views.
“So despite coming out to my aunt this past February, I guess she’s still just as much of a homophobe,” Andrew says in the video.
The video includes clips from Rep. Hartzler’s floor speech. “The bill’s implications: Submit to our ideology or be silenced,” she says.
“It’s more like you want the power to force your religious beliefs onto everyone else,” her nephew says in response. “And because you don’t have that power, you feel like you’re being silenced. But you’re not. You’re just gonna have to learn to coexist with all of us. And I’m sure it’s not that hard!”
The younger Hartzler has been making the rounds in the media since his TikTok went viral. The more I learn about this kid, the more hateful and awful his aunt seems. He comes from a conservative Christian family and attended Oral Roberts University, a Christian conservative university where, despite the name, gay sex is a big no-no and LGBTQ+ students are treated, at best, like they don’t exist. Many of them, like Andrew, remain closeted at the school. When he came out to his parents, they said they couldn’t accept him. He attempted suicide.
Despite this, the thing that makes Rep. Hartzler cry is the thought of him getting married? Where is her compassion for her nephew?
Then again, maybe if she weren’t being silenced by The Left she’d be shouting, “I love the gays!” from the rooftops. I guess we’ll never know how she really feels.