U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a former constitutional law professor, blasted U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on Monday for trying to derail the Respect for Marriage Act with a "religious liberty" amendment that had already failed in the U.S. Senate, telling him and his colleagues who claim there is no emergency for same-sex marriage, "I'm not going to accept assurances from people who are working to overturn the right of gay people to get married in America."
Roy's amendment is identical to one offered by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), which failed to pass. The far-right Texas GOP lawmaker appeared before the House Rules Committee to try to convince Democrats to allow debate on his amendment, which he admitted would likely fail. But should it pass, it would also likely kill the Respect for Marriage Act, forcing the legislation to be debated and voted on again in the Senate, where the clock is running out.
Democrats are trying to get the marriage protection bill complete and sent to President Joe Biden before Republicans officially take the House majority next month. It needs a final vote of approval from the House.
The Respect for Marriage Act is designed to protect same-sex marriages should the U.S. Supreme Court strike down rulings like Obergefell. 35 states still have laws on the books, including some constitutional amendments, banning same-sex marriage. In those states, should Obergefell be struck down, the bans would likely go into immediate effect.
House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), slammed Republicans for mocking Democrats' claim that LGBTQ Americans and same-sex couples are facing an emergency after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a call for cases that could strike down the rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage.
Congressman Roy is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which has said: "If there’s anything we need, it’s more people like Justice Thomas."
"I'm sorry that my friends don't think this is an emergency," Chairman McGovern told the committee. "I have constituents that think it's an emergency, and quite frankly are frightened out of their mind by the behavior of the Supreme Court after the Dobbs decision," striking down Roe v. Wade.
"And so, look, I mean, this may not be a big deal to some of my friends on the other side of the aisle," McGovern added. "I assure you it is a big deal to many of us on this side of the aisle."
Rep. Roy told the committee that a lawmaker in Finland was prosecuted for opposing same-sex marriage, trying to use that claim as a pretext to fear monger about what he claims is a loss of religious liberty in America, all in an attempt to grant far-right Christians special rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
"Again, I reiterate, a Member of Parliament was prosecuted in Finland for a statement made in defense of traditional marriage made 20 years ago," Roy claimed. "Is this where we're headed? Is this the direction that this country is going? Because if it is, we're going to be shredding what little there is the fabric holding us together in a union in which we can agree to disagree."
Nearly two years ago Congressman Roy appeared to threaten that if Democrats won the January, 2021 Georgia runoff election, taking control of the Senate, which they did, Republicans would declare civil war.
Congressman Raskin blasted Roy, saying, "he posed the question of whether we're headed in the direction of Great Britain where he reports a case, which I'm unaware of, about someone being apparently prosecuted or punished for, I don't know, anti-gay speech or something. I don't know what he's referring to there. But I can guarantee you that there's nobody who's been prosecuted, for saying that they're opposed to the Obergefell decision, where they're opposed to same-sex marriage that's perfectly covered by the First Amendment."
"In fact, you can say you're opposed to our Constitution, which Donald Trump said yesterday, I think, and that's completely within his First Amendment rights. Of course, you can't incite a violent insurrection against the government as President of the United States, which is moving from speech to action, but he's made himself clear that he's opposed to the Constitution of the United States."
"I don't know whether there are any American cases, Mr. Roy, that you were referring to but if there is one, I would love to hear about it," Raskin offered.
"I would be far more reassured by our colleagues who keep telling us," Raskin continued, "not to worry about the Armageddon of the Supreme Court overturning the Obergefell decision and trying to strip away the right of gay people to get married in America, if they also told us they were opposed to that."
"But it seems like the people who keep telling us not to worry about Armageddon are the same people who are trying to make Armageddon erupt. So if any of them would say, 'Well, don't worry, Justice Thomas didn't really mean it,' or, 'he doesn't have the kind of influence with Alito and the other justices that we think he has, but in any event, I'm with you in standing up for Obergefell,' then I could feel a little bit better, but I'm not going to accept assurances from people who are working to overturn the right of gay people to get married in America."
You can watch the entire discussion below or at this link.