Federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage leads to future goals


Chloe Schram, Staff Writer

On Dec. 13, 2022, President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which federally protects same-sex and interracial marriage for citizens in all U.S. states and territories.  

The Respect for Marriage Act officially nullifies the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Many members of the LGBTQ community are celebrating the security that the new act provides for marriage rights. 

“The Respect for Marriage Act gives me a sense of security,” said Grand Valley State University junior Samantha Rahm. “Since I’m a lesbian, it’s nice to know I have the same (marriage) rights as everyone else.” 

Rahm, among other members of the LGBTQ community, feels the bill provides a sense of relief and hope. 

“I believe this act will lead towards more progressive changes in the future,” Rahm said. “I hope for better laws for adoption, healthcare access and overall better treatment of people in the LGBTQ community.”

D. Hollowell, assistant director of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center at GVSU, said this act is only a small step towards equality and attention to other issues that people in the LGBTQ community are advocating for.

“Our marriages will be respected (by law), but not our youth’s access to trans-affirming support networks in states like Florida or Texas without parents and providers risking possible imprisonment, ” Hollowell said.

Research shows that when transgender youth have supportive families, there is a 46% decrease in suicide attempts. However, many states like Alabama and Texas have bans on gender-affirming care for youth which may pose additional concerns for transgender people. 

According to The Hill, no fewer than 20 bills have been pre-filed for 2023 across at least nine states that target transgender medical care. Within 2022, over two dozen states proposed measures to restrict or ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.

“This (lack of protections for trans-affirming medical care) makes me feel like lawmakers ought to prioritize addressing the urgent needs and enumerating the rights of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Hollowell said.

The Respect for Marriage Act has created a new sense of safety and security for the marriages of many LGBTQ people and interracial relationships. However, many people are looking to further federal protections for other  LGBTQ issues in the future.