Senator’s bipartisan legislation advanced in the Senate today
Senator’s bill ensures protections for all marriages and protects and respects religious liberties
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today on her bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act – historic legislation ensuring same-sex couples are afforded the same protections as all marriages and protects and respects religious liberties.
Click HERE to watch Sinema’s speech.
Below is Sinema’s speech as prepared for delivery:
“I rise today as our country takes an important step forward to protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans.
Together, with broad, bipartisan support, the Senate will provide certainty to millions of Americans in loving marriages and enshrine into law the basic protections afforded all Americans while respecting our country’s critical principle of religious liberty.
This historic milestone builds off years of incredible strides we’ve made advancing freedom and equality, including hard-fought victories I’ve been honored to help lead.
Nearly two decades ago in 2006, at a time when our country was beginning to debate marriage, Arizona proposed a ballot proposition banning same sex marriage in our state’s constitution.
This issue was personal to me and to many other Arizonans.
Similar ballot provisions had passed in states across the country – red and blue states alike – and the stakes were high.
The pundits didn’t give Arizona much of a chance.
I knew that in order to buck the trend and win, we’d need to run a different kind of campaign that expanded the conversation, cultivated a diverse group of unlikely partners, and moved past the tired, partisan talking points.
That’s why I worked across the aisle and teamed up with my good friend, Steve May, a Republican.
Now, we faced some criticism at the time for how we chose to run our campaign. Some wanted us to run a partisan campaign, convinced that highlighting the divides in our community and focusing exclusively on the LGBTQ community would put us over the top.
I knew we couldn’t do this by just talking amongst people who already agreed with our position.
The polling showed it. And frankly, we felt that in order to do right by our friends, our neighbors, and our fellow members of the community in Arizona, we had to do more than run a campaign that made our core supporters feel good but ultimately didn’t build the broad-based coalition of Arizonans needed to win.
That’s why we expanded the conversation to include how the proposition could harm all unmarried couples across Arizona, not just those in the LGBTQ community. People in domestic partnerships. People in common law marriages.
Because here’s the truth: when we reach beyond partisan talking points to find common ground, we expand what’s possible in Arizona and in our country.
We had open and honest conversations about the hopes and dreams that unite us, instead of the superficial differences that divide us.
In Arizona, we value our independence, we’re proud of our families and our communities, and we work hard to protect them.
We have our differences, but we share a strong sense of service, hard work, and self-determination.
We believe that everyone has the right to define his or her own destiny and that no one should be treated differently under the law.
By focusing on those shared values, we found success.
We defeated that ballot proposition – the first state in the country to do so – and I learned lessons that have shaped my work for Arizonans ever since.
Since 2006, we’ve seen long-term progress that makes today’s important debate in the United States Senate possible.
This work is ongoing. But this work can’t and shouldn’t be attributed to any politician, any political party, or any piece of legislation.
This work happens because people choose to be their most authentic selves and live their lives freely.
Being gay is normal. Being yourself is normal. Showing up to life every day, happy to be who you are, is normal. And being authentic with your friends, your family, your colleagues, and your community – that’s also normal.
It’s what helps us listen to each other, understand each other, grow in our community together.
It’s what changes hearts and minds in Arizona and around the country, and it’s what, little by little, delivers sustainable progress.
Whether at home in Arizona or here in the United States Senate, in order to deliver real results to the Americans we serve, we need to work together.
Working together means listening with open hearts, bridging divides, shutting out the noise, and focusing on our shared goals.
I’ve seen time and time again how this approach helps us overcome tough challenges.
A little over six months ago, it was thanks to the same approach that I stood here on the Senate floor and delivered remarks on the passage of our Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — a historic law we negotiated and passed with broad bipartisan support that makes our schools and communities safer and saves lives.
And before that, this approach helped us pass our landmark bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, strengthening America through upgrades and repairs, creating good paying jobs, and expanding economic opportunities across the country.
Beyond these historic accomplishments, our approach of focusing on common goals and shared ideals has helped us pass a number of other lasting solutions including long awaited and necessary postal reform, support for Ukraine in its fight against Putin, and most recently, the passage into law of our bipartisan Chips and Science Act — legislation boosting America’s global leadership, spurring job creation, and addressing our supply chain challenges.
As you can see, this approach has proved successful, and right now we need this approach more than ever.
This summer, Arizonans and Americans across the country were confused and scared following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Women felt their health and well-being immediately endangered, and our own abilities to make critical decisions about our futures suddenly thrown into question.
This fear trickled through other communities – including the LGBTQ community – as leaders with extreme ideologies mused about what other changes could come next.
Sadly, in response, we saw elected officials on both sides of the aisle exploit this fear and use it to fuel clicks, book cable news appearances, and drum up outrage to further their own partisan, political agendas.
Outrage can help propel political stars, but it doesn’t solve problems. It doesn’t make lives better for everyday people.
Amidst the noise, a few hardworking Senators – from across our country and across the political spectrum – understood there was a need to provide certainty to the American people, and we came to the table to get something done.
Senator Tammy Baldwin – our groundbreaking leader on this issue – partnered with Senators Susan Collins, Rob Portman, Thom Tillis, and myself — all of us no strangers to bipartisan success in a divided Senate.
Together, we focused on our shared goal — to help ensure married same sex couples across the country are afforded the same protections as all other married American couples.
Along the way we overcame obstacles, we made certain our language respected religious liberty, and we were careful to ensure that in shoring up some rights we did not infringe upon others.
We made our case to our fellow colleagues on both sides of the aisle. We listened to those who disagreed with us, we didn’t pick fights or call names, and we kept moving forward.
I’m proud to say that by refusing to demonize each other and by focusing on our shared goals, we will deliver real, lasting results for the LGBTQ community.
We will make our country stronger and safer for American families in a way that honors and respects our diverse viewpoints on marriage, family, and society.
I thank the faith communities who helped us expand the policy conversation and ensure that our amendment includes robust and common-sense religious liberty protections.
In particular, I thank the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who provided thoughtful suggestions and contributions. They summarized our holistic outcome when they wrote in their statement, quote:
“We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”
Not every American agrees on marriage – or lots of other issues. That’s ok.
Honest disagreements don’t make us any less decent or honorable, especially if we see disagreement as an opportunity to learn and grow.
If more of us dedicate ourselves to better understanding one another and our lived experiences, if we strive to see an issue from someone else’s point of view, and if we all work to practice a bit more patience and grace, I know we can continue finding paths forward together.
It may not seem like it in today’s partisan world, but there has always been more that unites us than divides us.
The bipartisan support we’ve garnered in the Senate proves this issue isn’t a matter of one party being right and the other being wrong.
It’s bigger than angry tweets and bombastic fundraising emails.
This is about ensuring American families who share the ideals of all marriages – love, devotion, and sacrifice – can continue to count on the basic rights and responsibilities that come with their marriages no matter where life takes them.
It’s about protecting the beliefs that unite us as Americans.
The right to define our own destinies.
The understanding that no one should be different in the eyes of the law.
The freedom to reach for every opportunity and fulfill our greatest potential.
The truth is, if we allow our basic values of honor and dignity to become just another political football, we’ll all lose.
As I learned back in Arizona in 2006, we have to work together, find willing partners in both parties, and bridge our divides before they rip us apart for good.
Our work is not done. As a body, we must resolve to do the right thing, continue this mission, and keep working together to deliver lasting results.
Our country deserves it, the American people deserve it, and the stakes are too high to stop our progress now.
Thank you, and I yield the floor.”
Sinema’s bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act ensures the federal government continues to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state it was performed. Additionally, Sinema’s bipartisan legislation guarantees that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. Sinema collaborated with religious groups – notably, The Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints, to earn their support and endorsement by ensuring the legislation protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or federal law.
Click HERE for a one-page summary of Sinema’s bill and HERE for the full text.