By Rose Horowitch and Moira Warburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday was expected to pass legislation protecting gay marriage rights, after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade imperiled similar precedents that protected rights to same-sex relations and contraception.
The bill establishes federal protections for gay marriage and prohibits anyone from denying the validity of a marriage based on the race or sex of the couple.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler sponsored the bill after the federal right to an abortion was overturned when the Supreme Court struck down its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should also reconsider its past rulings that guaranteed access to contraception and the 2015 right to gay marriage, because they relied on the same legal arguments that Roe did.
The bill is expected to win bipartisan support in the House, according to a Judiciary Committee aide, but it faces a difficult road in the Senate where Republican opponents might be able to block passage.
Congressional Republicans have echoed Thomas’ arguments. Republican Senator Ted Cruz said on Saturday that the high court was “clearly wrong” in establishing a federal right to gay marriage.
Democrats have argued that Congress must enshrine the right to gay marriage into federal law in case the court revisits its past rulings.
“The rights and freedoms that we have come to cherish will vanish into a cloud of radical ideology and dubious legal reasoning,” Nadler said in a statement on Monday.
Under the House bill, states could still restrict gay marriage if the Supreme Court overturns its prior ruling. But such states would be required to recognize marriages that occurred in states where they remain legal.
Democrats are hoping the bills will draw a contrast to Republicans ahead of Nov. 8 midterm elections, in which soaring inflation challenges Democrats’ majority hold on the House and Senate.
(Reporting by Rose Horowitch and Moira Warburton; editing by Jonathan Oatis)