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National Black Justice Coalition on the House of Representatives Vote Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage Rights

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | 

Statement from Dr. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a leading Black LGBTQ+ civil rights organization: 

“Today’s bipartisan vote in support of the Respect for Marriage Act reaffirms that the freedom to marry is and should remain settled law in a country founded on the premise of liberty and justice for all. 

“There is broad bipartisan support for the freedom to marry. Americans from all walks of life, across demographics, geography, and party lines, agree that loving, committed couples who decide to marry should also have their unions respected and protected under the law. As of last month, support for the freedom to marry is at an all-time high of 71%, making it clear that most Americans support radically inclusive appreciation for how couples participate in the institution of marriage. For Black LGBTQ+ people, who are in both same-sex and interracial marriages, this vote could not be more critical or come at a more important time.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that it does not intend to respect precedent or equal protection under the law, and, as a result are willing to put the rights of all Americans at risk, the Respect for Marriage Act is a significant opportunity to protect the families of LGBTQ+ Americans who remain vulnerable to discrimination in their daily lives. 

“We call on the U.S. Senate to work on a bipartisan basis to update existing federal law and pass nondiscrimination protections to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are protected and respected.”

Statement from Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition: 

“The opportunity to marry the person we love has been a moving right for Black people since the colonial period. The color of our skin, race, sex assigned at birth, religion, and more have been used to deny legal equality and access to rights for our relationships and families. It took centuries, but our United States Supreme Court finally got it right in the last sixty years. Unfortunately, the recent overturning of significant judicial precedent in the abortion-related Dobbs decision has put all equality protection-related judicial precedents at risk. 

“As a Black lesbian, nonbinary Christian woman living with a dynamic disability, the ability to provide for my wife and young child is tied up in our constitution’s promise to protect all of us equally.

“My grandmothers grew up in rural communities in the Jim Crow South where abortion was illegal, women couldn’t get a credit card without a man to sign for her, LGBTQ+ people couldn’t work in government, interracial and same-sex marriage was illegal, and the school you went to was based on the color of you and your family’s skin. For the last century, the U.S. Supreme Court has frequently used our Fourteenth Amendment to demand equality for all of us. Sadly, the Dobbs decision has made us question the court’s oath of office and fidelity to the constitution. 

“We fear that without the President and Congress taking decisive action, all of our children — and the rest of us — will come to live in a society that mirrors the one my grandmothers thought America left behind.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.