Did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas create rare bipartisanship in Congress?

a man holds a U.S. and a rainbow flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court

Less than a month ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laid out a vision that would bring disarray to the lives of millions in the United States.

Buried deep in the recent Supreme Court opinion that struck down the 50-year-old right to an abortion, Justice Thomas opined that the court should consider overturning same-sex marriage and other constitutional rights. His concurrence, which detailed why Roe vs. Wade and other rights should be overturned, shocked the LGBTQ community and its allies.

Protests were observed in major cities throughout the country.

But the words of the court’s most conservative justice did something else that may be even more shocking: it created bipartisanship in the U.S. House of Representatives around an issue that has divided lawmakers for decades.

The House bill passed 267 to 157 in favor of the Respect of Marriage Act. While Democrats only required a simple majority, 47 Republicans joined them after House GOP leadership allowed members to vote with their conscience.

”As this Court may take aim at other fundamental rights, we cannot sit idly by as the hard-earned gains of the Equality movement are systematically eroded,” said House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) Monday in a statement after the House passed the bill, which also protects interracial marriage. “If Justice Thomas’s concurrence teaches anything, it’s that we cannot let your guard down or the rights and freedoms that we have come to cherish will vanish into a cloud of radical ideology and dubious legal reasoning.”

But the most challenging part is yet to come.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which has been where bills go to die in recent years. While Democrats control the evenly split upper chamber, they will need 10 GOP senators to cross the aisle to pass the historic bill.

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, whose son came out as gay in 2013, will co-sponsor the bill in the Senate. Susan Collins, a Republican Senator from Maine, will also sign on to the bill.

Eight to go.

Christopher Harress

Christopher Harress |

Climate change reporter on the east and Gulf coasts.

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