Arizona couples encouraged by U.S. Senate passage of bill protecting same-sex, interracial marriages

The bill does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, but instead requires individual states to recognize another state’
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:09 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:44 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - David Patterson can’t help but smile every time he looks at himself and his husband Kevin on the front page of the newspaper back in 2014.

David and Kevin were the first same sex couple in Arizona to get married, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage equality. “Just the joy and fulfilment we felt on that day, was something. It solidified me and Kevin as a couple. It solidified us as a family,” Patterson said. “I know some people say its just paperwork, but to us it really was a gift”

The Patterson family has made the most of their marriage, raising two daughters and living like any other Phoenix family. The couple said they’ve been concerned more recently that the right of same-sex marriage could come under attack again if the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court rules to give states the authority to ban same-sex marriages.

The bill does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage,...
The bill does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, but instead requires individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage.(Arizona's Family)

In a pre-emptive attempt to protect same sex marriage, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Tuesday intending to protect same-sex and interracial marriages across the states called “Respect for Marriage Act.” Jeanne Woodbury is interim director of Equality Arizona, and she said the Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that all couples have the same legal rights. “Everyone said Roe vs Wade was the law of the land, until all of a sudden it wasn’t,” Woodbury said. “It’s not enough to rely on courts for these basic fundamental liberties: immigration status, healthcare, visitation, and housing. Marriage equality does a lot to protect that for same-sex couples in a way that is already protected with straight couples.”

Patterson said the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act will provide some peace of mind for his family, and thousands of other same sex couples who will know their right to marry and remain married won’t be taken away. At the same time, there’s also a sense of sadness that this is still a debatable issue. “With the idea that Congress is codifying this into law is kind of bittersweet,” Patterson said. “Why do we have to do that? Why is this something that’s coming under attack and politicizing my personal life? To me, that’s the antithesis of what we hope to have as Americans.”

The bill does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, but instead requires individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage. The act will now move to the House of Representatives for a vote, while the Democratic party still holds the majority.