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Rep. French Hill votes against Respect for Marriage Act

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Congressman French Hill
U.S Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, addressing members of the House earlier this month.

Earlier this week, the U.S House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act, according to NPR News.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed under the Clinton Administration in 1996, that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. DOMA prevented same-sex couples from accessing their partners employment benefits, rights of inheritance and tax exempetions, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Couples were also exempted from domestic violence protections.

After then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed DOMA into law, about 40 states enacted bans on same-sex marriage in either state laws or state constitutions. The Associated Press reported in 2014 that Arkansas attempted to place a gay marriage ban in the state constituion after it was approved by voters, but it was struck down by a federal judge.

U.S Rep. French Hill of Arkansas’ Second District voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. In a statement to KUAR News, Hill, R-Little Rock, wrote he views the bill as unnecessary since citizens can marry whomever regardless of sex, race, religion or national origin.

The legislation comes after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in his opinion in the case to overturn Roe v. Wade the court should reevaluate the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges. In 2015, the Obergefell case established the right for same-sex couples to get married.

Hill noted in his statement the Supreme Court did indicate in its majority opinion the Roe v. Wade ruling shouldn’t cast doubts on precedents unrelated to abortion.

Other members of Arkansas' congressional delegation – all Republicans – also opposed the bill. According to Politico, 47 of the 213 Republicans in the House voted in favor of the bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming were among the lawmakers who voted to pass the law.

On Twitter, the Democratic Party of Arkansas criticized Arkansas’ representatives for not supporting the legislation.

“Our Arkansas congressmen showed us what they really think— they WILL NOT protect marriage equality or birth control,” the party said on its official Twitter account.

The Respect for Marriage Act will need to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

Ronak Patel was a reporter for KUAR News focusing on state and local government.