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Senator Lindsey Graham Says ‘States Should Decide the Issue of Marriage’

The Senate is expected to vote on the Respect for Marriage Act in the fall

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says marriage should be defined and regulated by individual states as Democratic lawmakers work toward codifying same-sex marriage.

Graham appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss the legal regulations on abortion and marriage following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic.

I think states should decide the issue of marriage, and states should decide the issue of abortion,” the senator said. “I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters I trust to define marriage and deal with the issue of abortion. Not nine people on the court.”

Graham also affirmed that it was up to the court to overturn any previous statutes. 

Later, Dana Bash pressed him on the future of interracial marriage, which was legally protected following Loving v. Virginia. Graham said Bash had brought the court’s precedent-setting decision up “because you don’t want to talk about inflation, you don’t want to talk about crime.”

“This is all politics, my friends,” Graham said. “Instead of trying to solve problems, we’re talking about constitutional decisions that are still in effect.”

He added, “But if you’re going to ask me to have the federal government take over defining marriage, I’m going to say no.”

As part of the June 24 Dobbs decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the Court should reconsider its decision that set “substantive due process precedents” – including cases that legalized gay marriage and guaranteed access to birth control.

In the ensuing weeks, the House of Representatives voted to codify the right to both same-sex and interracial marriage 267-157. Every Democrat voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act as did 47 Republicans. 

“The Supreme Court’s extremist and precedent-ignoring decision in Dobbs v. Jackson has shown us why it is critical to ensure that federal law protects those whose constitutional rights might be threatened by Republican-controlled state legislatures,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a statement on July 19.

“The millions of same-sex and interracial couples throughout the United States should not have to live with the fear that extremist Supreme Court justices – who act as though they are legislators – could end legal recognition for their families or prevent millions of others from being able to build families with equal legal status,” Hoyer added. “They deserve the assurance that their marriages will always be recognized in every city, county, and state across the country.”

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill in September. At least 5 senators have signaled their intent to support the policy – narrowing the gap to a 60-vote majority.

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