How did they vote? Stefanik, Tenney divided on bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions

Respect for Marriage Act
Respect for Marriage Act(MGN, Pixabay, Architect of the Capitol)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 2:09 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - The women who will represent the north country in Congress were divided in their Thursday vote to protect same-sex and interracial marriage.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R. - 21st District), who currently represents Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Stefanik was among 39 Republicans who joined Democrats in approving the legislation, which now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The measure requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing the marriages.

The bipartisan legislation would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

A spokesperson with Stefanik’s office issued this statement about the Congresswoman’s vote:

“Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s vote is consistent with her views on how states should respect concealed carry permits and military family spousal licensing. Just as she believes concealed carry permits should be recognized from state to state, this bill will ensure if a marriage is recognized in one state, it is recognized in another. This bill includes important provisions to uphold religious liberty and not encroach on the sincerely-held beliefs of Americans.”

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R. - 22nd District) voted against the measure.

Come January, Tenney will represent Watertown, most of Jefferson County and parts of western New York in the newly drawn 24th Congressional District.

She says she voted against the bill because it failed to include stronger protections for religious Americans.

Tenney issued the following statement:

“I firmly believe that every marriage entered into between two consenting adults deserves to be honored, respected, and protected. Same-sex marriages sanctioned by the state should be recognized by the government and duly protected. Before today, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, same-sex marriage was already recognized and protected. The Supreme Court indicated as recently as 2022, that this status is not under threat. Unfortunately, while this bill sought to codify aspects of the Obergefell decision, it did so by failing to include sufficiently explicit religious liberty protections. The private right of action included in this legislation is overly broad and could be abused by trial attorneys to target those with deeply held religious beliefs. Amendments that would have clarified and improved upon this language were sadly rejected. Americans with deeply held religious beliefs and faith-based organizations deserve legal certainty, and this bill fell short of providing them that. Free speech and the right to practice one’s faith are fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is my view that the federal government should not be in the marriage business to begin with. However, if it is going to be, then it should treat two consenting adults fairly, same-sex or otherwise. We should not marginalize same-sex couples or diminish their rights. My opposition to this legislation stems from the fundamental need for stronger protections for religious Americans so that the rights of all individuals acting in good-faith are protected equally.”