Georgia activists eager for federal bill protecting same-sex marriage to become law

A bill that would protect same-sex marriage is working its way through Congress. The U.S. Senate passed the proposal with bipartisan support Tuesday night, and it’s expected to become law. 

The Senate bill would ensure same-sex and interracial marriages are protected under federal law. 

Jeff Graham, is the Executive Director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Georgia Equality. Graham said the measure would provide solid guarantees to protect marriage equality here in Georgia. 

"It’s a great bill," Graham said. "We would not lose those federal protections. It does shore up that the federal government will always recognize same-sex and interracial marriages." 

The proposal gained last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, suggested same-sex marriage could be under threat. 

Timothy Holbrook, a law professor at Emory University, says the legislation would not force states to allow same-sex couples to marry. But the bill would require all states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed even if the high court were to overturn the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which grants marriage equality. 

"If it’s signed into law, it does create protections for their marriages, current ones and future ones in the event the Supreme Court decides to overrule same-sex marriage equality," Holbrook said. "If a couple gets married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, every state must recognize that marriage within their own territory." 

Rashaun Lemp, who raises a teenage son and a toddler daughter with his husband Chris, is gratified the senate passed a bill. 

"It also gives us comfort that our union will be recognized," Kemp said. "It gives is a sense of protection and relief." 

The bill moves onto the house, where it’s expected to pass. It would them go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.