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Port: Republican Congressman Armstrong says he'll vote to codify federal recognition of same-sex marriage

“The U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that lawful proceedings conducted in one state are recognized by the other states," Armstrong said. "HR 8404 makes it clear that a

Congressman Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, address the U.S. House in a floor speech about court-packing and Supreme Court controversies.
Congressman Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, addresses the U.S. House.
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MINOT, N.D. — We are living in strange times, my friends.

A pro-life Democrat is running for the U.S. House for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL ( though some in the party want to rescind support for his candidacy ). Meanwhile, the incumbent in that race, a conservative Republican, says he'll vote to codify same-sex marriage rights in federal law.

After the Supreme Court struck down the Roe v. Wade precedent that read a right to abortion into the U.S. Constitution, there has been talk about whether another precedent, Obergefell v. Hodges, the one which struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, would also be overturned.

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In his opinion concurring with the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that reasoning similar to that used in Roe was also used in rulings on same-sex marriage, and thus they should also be struck down.

This has prompted Democrats to introduce legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage in federal statutes . It's called the Respect for Marriage Act , and it would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act while also recognizing, from the federal level, same-sex and interracial marriages.

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A vote on that bill is expected to be taken today, and Congressman Kelly Armstrong, a Republican and North Dakota's only member of the U.S. House, says he's supporting it.

“The U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that lawful proceedings conducted in one state are recognized by the other states," he told me this afternoon. "HR 8404 makes it clear that a marriage performed in one state will be recognized in another, regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the couple. This bill provides assurance to Americans that their marital status won’t change based on their ZIP code. This is commonsense and in line with multiple Supreme Court decisions.
 
"Importantly, nothing in this legislation requires religious institutions or private businesses to perform marriages, protecting Americans religious liberties and First Amendment rights," he continued.

The bill is short and straightforward, by federal standards.

In addition to repealing DOMA, in just four pages it also recognizes any marriage that was legal in the state in which it took place.

It also "prohibits any person acting under color of state law from denying full faith and credit to an out of state marriage based on the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individuals in the marriage," per a news release from the House Judiciary Committee .

Currently, the legal precedent set in Obergefell v. Hodges, which found a fundamental right to marry in the 14th Amendment, still stands. But if the courts were to overturn it, this law would amount to a de facto legalization even in states that ban same-sex marriage.

North Dakota still has a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution, dating from a 2004 ballot measure that passed by a wide margin. That ban was in the process of being challenged in court when the Obergefell decision came down, rendering them moot.

Presumably, North Dakota's ban would be back in place should Obergefell be overturned, but the Respect for Marriage Act, should it become law, would oblige the state to respect marriages performed in other states, even if they couldn't legally be performed here.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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