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Utah’s congressmen voted to acknowledge same-sex marriage. What’ll happen in the Senate?

AP — Congress Marriage Rights, pride flag with U.S. Capitol in the background, June 12, 2022
Jose Luis Magana
AP, file
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, a person waves a rainbow flag as they participate in a rally in support of the LGBTQIA+ community at Freedom Plaza, Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Washington. The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday, July, 19, 2022, to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservative Americans.

All four of Utah’s Representatives in the U.S. House voted in favor of a bill that grants federal protections to marriage equality.

Reps. John Curtis, Burgess Owens, Chris Stewart and Blake Moore joined 43 of their Republican colleagues in supporting the Respect for Marriage Act. The legislation requires the federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages.

Democrats in Congress mobilized to codify marriage equality following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. In a concurring opinion, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas signaled the highest court should reconsider other cases like Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

In an email statement, Rep. Curtis said the opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson’s Health Organization by Justice Samuel Alito made it clear that the court wouldn’t touch the constitutionality of marriage equality, although he understood the importance of codifying it into law for Utahns.

“I do not believe the federal government should infringe upon an individual’s decision about who they wish to marry,” Curtis said.

Despite GOP support for the bill in the House, it’s sure to face an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate.

Democratic State Sen. Derek Kitchen, who is the only openly queer man in the Utah Legislature, said he was impressed by the state’s delegation in Washington. Now, his eyes are on Sen. Mitt Romney.

“He's been noncommittal on this bill that just passed out of the House of Representatives,” Kitchen said. “We certainly need Sen. Mitt Romney to jump into this as well and initiate his support for protecting our families.”

Romney didn’t outwardly oppose the bill on Wednesday. But he wasn’t convinced, either. He claimed there is no reason to address the bill since the right to marry is protected by the Constitution.

“Clearly the legislation from the House is unnecessary given the fact that the law is the same,” Romney told KUER's Washington D.C. partner Matt Laslo, “and we'll take a look at it as that comes our way.”

In a press conference with Utah reporters Wednesday, Romney said he wouldn’t vote on the bill until he’s had a chance to read it.

Sen. Mike Lee didn’t respond by the time the story was published. But this story will be updated if and when a response is available.

The Respect for Marriage Act has been introduced in the Senate but has yet to be brought up for a vote.

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