(WASHINGTON) — Members of Congress favoring marriage equality for homosexuals exulted Wednesday over Supreme Court rulings that furthered that cause.
“I feel jubilation. I feel fabulous. I feel every gay word I can think of,” said Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., drawing laughter at a Capitol news conference Wednesday morning.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act as an “extraordinary day.”
“Equal protection will not simply be a promise unfulfilled; it will be a promise kept,” said Pelosi, D-Calif., as she joined the LGBT community of Congress for a news conference.
“This ruling will only make us work harder in the courts, in the state legislatures, everywhere, to ensure that all men and women in every part of our country are granted equal rights no matter who they love.”
But not every member of Congress was pleased with the decision. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said marriage is something only “God will define.”
“The Supreme Court, though they may think so, have not yet arisen to the level of God,” Bachmann said.
When presented with Bachmann’s response to the decision, Pelosi scoffed, grumbling, “Who cares?”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., fought back emotion as he spoke about the impact the decision would have on his family, including his partner of 21 years and their three children.
“It means that they don’t have to grow up in a country wondering why our family is less than somebody else’s,” he said. “And that’s a good thing.”
While Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., applauded the SCOTUS decision, he said Congress still has a crucial role to play in shutting down discrimination.
“The battle is far from done,” Polis said. “In over 20 states, people can still be fired from their job just because they’re gay or lesbian. Across our country in schools, gay kids face bullying and sometimes have no place to turn.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., were reintroducing companion legislation on Wednesday to repeal DOMA completely and remove any lasting ambiguity about LGBT recognition under federal law. Their bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, clarifies that marriage is lawful where recognized by the federal government, no matter where people live.
Nadler, who represents Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the U.S. v. Windsor DOMA case, brought the discussion back to the separation of church and state.
He said regardless of a person’s religious views or views on marriage, the issue of recognition by the state is not a religious question.
“We’re not dealing with religious belief in all these questions,” he said. “We’re dealing with what the state or the federal government does. And we have a separation of church and state in this country.”
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