Comedian Jamie Kilstein once said about gays and adoption: “Let the gays marry. These are people who will raise a child for a better reason than ‘the condom broke’.”

While I suspect much of the queer community breathed a sigh of relief this week when President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage act into law – and I did too – the above quote kept running around in my head. “Let the gays marry.”


Which is what this bill does. It lets the queer community get married and stay married in case the Supreme Court overturns the 2015 Obergefell decision. It lets us keep the rights of straight married couples should our state decide to ban same-sex marriage. Sure, we’ll have to go somewhere else to have our wedding, but at least we won’t lose that designation once we cross state lines. Because it’s the law.

And perhaps that’s what has been bothering me most and making me second-guess the use of the word “respect.” This law doesn’t respect my right to get married and stay married. It doesn’t respect my right to the same benefits as married straight couples. This law simply codifies my marriage at the federal level to keep conservative legislatures, courts, and justices from taking that away from me, as I expect will happen over time.

Because as much as people have been saying Obergefell is settled law, the same was said about Roe v. Wade – including by Justices being questioned by Congress prior to their placement on the court – and we know how that has turned out. Justice Clarence Thomas basically invited conservatives to challenge Obergefell when writing his opinion in the Dobbs case that nullified 50 years of abortion precedent.

While a challenge will take some time to reach the Supreme Court, I expect that to happen. There are enough conservative states – including Texas – that are friendly to the anti-LGBTQ organizations in America that the lawsuits should start flying if they haven’t already. We’ve already spent the last couple of years watching the queer community being vilified by the right to score cheap political points. Lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage would just be one more avenue to tout their conservative bonafides.

Not that I’m disappointed that the law was signed. Like a lot of people, I was amazed that the bill managed to work its way through Congress in the first place, despite the histrionics from conservative Congressional members and religious groups. One House member managed to go viral as she broke down in tears on the House floor imploring her colleagues to protect the true meaning of marriage.

Would these be the same colleagues who’ve been married and divorced multiple times? The ones caught cheating on their spouses? The ones who go on and on about the sanctity of marriage and family values but can’t manage to keep it in their pants? Or the Congressman who attended his son’s wedding to his boyfriend, welcomed his new son-in-law with open arms, then turned around and voted against the bill?

Again, I’m not disappointed that the law was signed. Just disappointed that after decades of progress, I’m starting to feel like we will be reliving the marriage fight sooner than later. That despite poll after poll showing public support for same-sex marriage, enough legislators and judges exist that life could swing the other way.

However, I’ll try not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and just enjoy this win for now. Happy that we currently have enough members in Congress and a President mindful of queer rights. Happy that we can stay married. And happy that we don’t yet need to worry about politicians and judges disrespecting our marriages when they can’t respect their own.