One Year Ago Today: Marriage Equality
Today marks the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. In the past year, 123,000 same-sex couples have gotten married, many of whom would not have been able to do so before the Supreme Court affirmed under our Constitution that love is love, no matter what.
The fight for marriage equality was a long one, and Ron has been a part of it for more than 20 years. In 1993, he voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, believing that Americans should not be forced to choose between serving in the military and the person they love. Three years later, in 1996, Ron became one of the first members of Congress to publically endorse same-sex marriage, saying, “If you have two people who have chosen a monogamous relationship regardless of their sexual orientation, I don’t think it ought to be the business of the government.”
That same year, Ron was one of only 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited marriage to being between a man and a woman.
Following the Obergefell decision, Ron introduced the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act, which removes gender-specific references to marriage, enshrining dignity and recognition for LGBTQ Americans in the tax code. And late last year, the Treasury Department took action to make the tax code’s language applicable to all married couples.
While the Supreme Court’s decision was a tremendous victory, the fight for equality isn’t over yet. Members of the LGBTQ community still face discrimination from employers and businesses, receive unequal veterans’ benefits, and bravely live their daily lives in spite of discriminatory laws disguised as expressions of religious freedom.
That’s why Ron continues to fight to ensure that LGBTQ Americans enjoy the dignity and equal treatment under the law in every aspect of their lives. All Americans have the right to equality in employment, housing health care and beyond.
In December, Ron led seven other senators in pushing for more transparency and accountability after a rise in the number of colleges and universities seeking religious exemptions under Title IX – the law that protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Department of Education agreed that more transparency was needed, and in April, published the names of schools that seek religious waivers from Title IX.
In April, Ron joined his colleagues in introducing a bill to end “conversion therapy” by classifying it as a fraudulent practice that would be illegal under the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to prevent deceptive business practices. Oregon is one of three states to ban the practice for minors.
Ron is also a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which expands federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and following the massacre in Orlando, Ron cosponsored the Hate Crimes Prevention Act when it was introduced last week. The bill would keep firearms out of the hands of those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes.
Ron will never stop defending the right of LGBTQ Americans, because every American should have equal access to marriage under the law. Love, after all, is love. And love wins.