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After a brief hiatus we are back to take a deep dive into the recent Respect For Marriage Act legislation.
Attorney Angela Giampolo and radio host Steve O discuss what is good about the RFMA, what it lacks, some of the concerns for the future and whether or not it will truly affect the lives of LGBTQ people in the United States.

Episode Transcript

[00:01:11.350] – Speaker 3

Good morning. Welcome Philadelphia to another ask the expert show can you believe I got knocked off the air? But we’re here. We’re back, and I see a smiling face good morning, Ms. Angela.

[00:02:07.190] – Speaker 3

So, Angela, first of all, I’ve got to start off with tell me what’s going on in the Senate with marriage.

[00:02:19.050] – Speaker 4

Now, the Respect for Marriage Act was recently passed, and it does a lot of things that are good. And then it’s important also to highlight not what’s bad, but just what it doesn’t do. Okay. And then what people should be aware of, ultimately. So what it does do is it will require the federal government to recognize marriages for the rights and privileges, the federal rights and privileges. So regardless of where you are in the country, if you are legally married and were legally married in a state where it’s recognized, you will be able to avail yourself to the federal benefits associated with marriage, which are significant. Anything from immigration rights, being able to marry someone in a different country that’s actually a federal law, federal benefit, bankruptcy and everything involved. If you were to declare bankruptcy and if you’re married versus not and your spouse’s protection, that’s all federal Social Security benefits. Huge, right? So a lot of the financially significant benefits are federal, and no one would be denied those. And what it doesn’t do is it doesn’t require a state like Alabama, who, if Obergerfell was overturned, Alabama would not have marriage equality, would not pass marriage equality.

[00:03:47.230] – Speaker 4

Alabama would be very happy with the fact that Obergefell was overturned and it didn’t have to perform or allow same-sex marriages, and this doesn’t require Alabama to do so. But if I am an Alabamian, I don’t know what it’s called to be from Alabama. But if you are from Alabama and you want to leave Alabama and come to Philly to get married and get married in Philly and then go back home to Alabama, it does require Alabama to then recognize the person as married for the state laws of Alabama. So now that Alabama now has Alabama state laws because they came here to Philly to get married, so they can avail themselves to the state privileges and benefits of Alabama, and they can avail themselves to the federal laws and benefits because it required the federal government to recognize it. Now, it’s also important to note that the only reason it went through with such a high proportion of Senate voting for it is a few Mondays ago, three or four Mondays ago now, a bipartisan group of senators met and agreed upon significant religious protections. Okay? Now, for those this is radio, so you’re not seeing my air quotes around the word protection.

[00:05:12.220] – Speaker 4

But within the LGBTQ community, we hear religious protections. And to us, that means discrimination. Okay. Religious protections. Equates to discrimination a lot of the time. So there are significant religious protections written into the bill that we don’t quite know how it will be utilized. It’s also important to note that this is all academic as of right now. This whole exercise is academic. There’s been all this news. Steve has heard about it, despite the fact that I haven’t spoken to Steve in a month, which means, right, it’s all over the news. And yet Obergefell is still lost. So we still have marriage equality around the country, and it will take at least a year and a half to two years for a case to work its way up to the Supreme Court, for a case to be before the Supreme Court, for the Supreme Court to overturn Obergefell, to even make this Respect for Marriage act matter. It’s completely academic. It has absolutely no power. It does nothing. It’s absolutely irrelevant as of now for the next couple of years. So in my opinion, a lot of the politicians that were in favor of it, it was a political thing to garner hope, to garner momentum, post-Roe, very depressing. Let’s do this thing. And so they did, and it’s in place, but it’s purely academic because nobody needs it.

[00:06:46.280] – Speaker 3

Wow. I did not know that.

[00:06:48.040] – Speaker 4

Right? It does nothing. It does nothing. And it’s not very often that you pass a law to anticipate. Maybe two years from now, another law will be overturned, and then we’ll have this in place for when that happens. Okay. So now my concern with that for us is that right now we had a good makeup of senators that made it doable the numbers mathematically of Republican Dems and who was for it and who wasn’t and whatever. But two years from now, if that makeup is any different they could easily overturn this just as easily as they passed it. It can easily be overturned. So in the next two to four years, as we enter into a presidential election with a DeSantis or a Trump, and then potentially a whole new makeup of the Senate, we just need to be careful. But so this was completely preemptive.

[00:07:46.230] – Speaker 3

People don’t know that. People do not know that. They just accepted that the Senate voted for it. It’s going into law.

[00:07:58.490] – Speaker 4

But it does nothing. It is. It’s going into law, but it really has no effect because we have all of those rights as of right now.

[00:08:09.850] – Speaker 3

Has the president signed off on it yet?

[00:08:12.680] – Speaker 4

I don’t think it’s even passed the House yet. So it passed the Senate, and needed to go back to the House. It passed the House, went to the Senate, sent it back down to the House, and then the President’s desk. So I’m not where we are. 

[00:08:26.340] – Speaker 3

Angela, how do you personally feel? Are you discouraged?

[00:08:29.890] – Speaker 4

No, it’s definitely a win. I mean, I made all my posts and everything I’ve written, I’ve written about it. It’s definitely a win. If nothing else, it takes the temperature of the United States citizens on the topic, and we’re 72% in favor. So as each of these types of topics come to the forefront, it’s important to have a national dialogue on them. And that’s what this exercise gave us, was a national dialogue on it. And also, a lot of people don’t know that there were oral arguments on a case yesterday at the Supreme Court around its, 303 Creative v. Elenis. And there were oral arguments on it yesterday, which means we’ll hear in June, usually, that’s when the Supreme Court gives us LGBTQ cases, they like to give us either the pros or the cons of whatever the answers are during June, which is Pride Month. So win, lose or fail, we always get our answers on our cases during Pride Month. But oral arguments in this particular case were fascinating. I haven’t read all the transcripts yet. I’m a dork, but I didn’t get through all of the 500 pages since yesterday.

[00:09:51.000] – Speaker 4

But that case is a web designer who filed a lawsuit saying that she didn’t want to have to put together a website like AngelaandDianewedding.com or something like that.

[00:10:06.460] – Speaker 3

It’s like the Baker.

[00:10:07.430] – Speaker 4

Exactly. It’s the baker, but it’s around web design. Baker said he was using creativity to create the cake and that he shouldn’t have to put in that sort of creativity into something that he believed was inherently wrong and against his religion. The same holds true for a web designer, the graphic design artist. Creativity. Right. But now it’s really honing in. The bakery case was very narrow. The facts weren’t good. In order to really make a decision on whether or not someone who owns a business can say, no, I don’t want to serve you as a consumer or as a client or as a vendor, what have you, because I don’t believe in same-sex marriage. So that is not the decision that we got in the Baker case because of what the issues were. The holding was very narrow. This case is not, the facts are perfect for the Supreme Court to have to make a decision on that. Does this graphic designer have to make this website about a same-sex marriage despite the fact that she doesn’t believe her? Her religion thinks it’s immoral and doesn’t want to have to put in her creativity into something that she thinks is immoral.

[00:11:35.290] – Speaker 4

So it’s going to be fascinating. To answer your question, am I encouraged? I’m encouraged about the Respect for Marriage Act because it’s a win, and we need wins whenever we can get the wins. Even though this particular win right now really doesn’t do anything substantively. It’s there. It’s on the books. If Obegerfell gets overturned, it will be there, and then the religious protections will get litigated, and there will be fights. Then when Obergefell gets overturned, then people will be able to sue about the Respect for Marriage Act, and we’ll sort of take it from there.

[00:12:15.480] – Speaker 3

Okay? So, Angela, I need your help bad. Something I’ve never discussed on here. I’m a believer. I go to church. God is the most important thing in my life. But I also respect that if you want to marry somebody, same-sex marriage, that you should, even though the Bible says somewhat differently. But here’s my question. How do we make it right for everybody so that everybody’s happy? We respect religion because people who believe in the Bible, and I’m one of those. But I also believe in same-sex marriage, which my church is happy about. Is there a way to make everybody happy?

[00:13:19.790] – Speaker 4

Yeah. I mean, you live in Florida, and let me ask you this. You live in Florida. Do you like seafood living in Florida, right. Do you eat crabs and lobsters? Right? So those are crustaceans. And right before it says, man shall not sleep with man. Right before that, it says man shall not eat crustaceans. Right. I love me some lobster. Okay, so the Bible is not word for word on anything, right? So that right there. But with that said, even if you didn’t eat crustaceans or even if you were just, you know, word for word, Bible believer, everything the Bible says, I live out. Okay? You can do that within the privacy of your own home, right? And what we do in commerce, what we do out in society, and this capitalistic nature of just like Canada you take Canada, for instance. There’s so few of these issues in Canada because I don’t know where the idea of the United States being the melting pot went awry, but the United States was founded to be a melting pot of diversity of people from all over. And that the United States was welcoming the melting pot, right?

[00:14:47.740] – Speaker 4

But it’s not. Everybody is so focused on what their identities are and separateness. I am different from this person. I am separate from this person. I am African American. I am Italian American. I am Irish American. And it’s like, Kiss me. I’m Irish. No, you’re not. You’re just american.

[00:15:07.970] – Speaker 3

Right.

[00:15:08.370] – Speaker 4

But in Canada, there is no African Canadian. Italian Canadian. Irish Canadian. They’re all just Canadians. And so how can we all be happy? How can we all get along is if we truly stop looking for the separateness and how you are other from me, how you are different from me. I mean, this is not a legal answer. This is not my lawyer answer. This is sort of my human answer. Right? We’re all human. We’re all sharing this planet. We all have differences that’s that. There are a lot of people that are very adamant anti-LGBTQ advocates who are on their third marriage, which is technically not per the Bible. If you really hone in, it’s like, don’t throw the first stone living in a glass house. And we all live in glass houses. And if everyone we all live in a glass house. No one is immune to that. And so if we just got rid of all the stones and the glass so that I could just go through and sort of touch you, I think there’d be a lot more I sound hippy-dippy saying this, but a lot more love in the world and a lot less vitriol.

[00:16:31.310] – Speaker 4

So that is not the legal answer.

[00:16:34.590] – Speaker 3

But we’ve got a text from somebody. I don’t know what their beliefs are, but they want to know. We did not plan to go this route. And in the second half of the show, we’re going to get back into estate plan. But this listener wants to know, why couldn’t a person just go somewhere else to have their cake made or their website made? I know you have an answer for that.

[00:17:09.720] – Speaker 4

Right. And that person is probably listening locally from a large city. Right? I’m in Philadelphia. You’re in a large city in Florida, but in smaller towns, especially, let’s say a very small town in Alabama, just to keep using Alabama.

[00:17:41.840] – Speaker 4

Exactly. I’m going. So those people in particular, the small town with the bakery cake or there was a wedding dress issue. There’s also a case around a wedding dress and it was the only bridal shop within 3 hours of them.

[00:17:58.510] – Speaker 3

Okay.

[00:17:59.450] – Speaker 4

Right. So it is not like you just walk another three blocks and you hit another bakery or there are 19 web design agencies or whatnot. So in smaller, smaller towns where it’s harder to be out. Right. And because they tend to be more conservative in a very small town there, the person may have to drive a long way to go find. For me personally, within a large city, I like to what I call recycle the pink dollar. Right. Like, please let me know that you’re homophobic, because why would I give you my money? I haven’t been to Chick-fil-A in nine years. I love their waffle fries. Love them. I still dream about them, but I will never spend money on waffle fries for them. Right. But if I’m in a large city and you have an anti-LGBT sign and I now know you’re homophobic, I will absolutely skip you and go to the other hardware store and buy a hammer and spend $5 at the other hardware store and recycle my pink dollar. And that’s why, even as a lawyer, when some people say, oh, you’re an LGBTQ lawyer, people go to you just because you’re gay.

[00:19:14.380] – Speaker 4

And I’m like some people do. Yes, absolutely. Like, they’re gay. I’m gay. And it just feels comfortable and feels right, feels aligned. Exactly. Right. So some people will go to Starbucks. Others will purposefully patron a small coffee shop. Right. And so there are a lot of lawyers out there, but some would rather patron an LGBTQ lawyer. I understand. I know we can discuss all the topics without stuttering over LGBTQ. Yes, I totally get that. And for me personally, I would skip that baker. I would skip that wedding dress store, and I would go to a different web designer.

[00:19:56.950] – Speaker 3

If you’re in a rural area, you don’t really have that choice.

[00:20:04.530] – Speaker 3

We got to go to break, but we got to go to break and give everybody your phone number Angela. Angela’s got office an office in Philadelphia, but she is spreading out, which we’ll probably spend a whole show talking about that. Give everybody your phone number, Angela.

[00:20:24.240] – Speaker 4

Absolutely. So it’s 215-645-2415. And you can also reach me at my website at Giampololaw.com or my blog, lawyer.LGBT.

[00:22:42.450] – Speaker 3

And we are back to Ask the Expert show. We’re with you every Tuesday from 10 to 11:00 A.m. With the finest experts in legal, health, financial, and home improvement. And I’m going to say something I never thought I would say ever. But we change. We get educated, which I think more people should be educated, because I wasn’t. And I got to tell you, I totally endorse Angela. And not just that she works with the LGBTQ community and has experience there. But I have learned over the years with Angela, she’s just a very fine attorney. And if you’d have told me five years ago that I would be endorsing and I’ll admit it, I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I was an idiot. I totally endorse Angela. I endorse what she’s doing. I endorse what she is about to do because what she’s about to do takes a lot of guts.

[00:24:08.750] – Speaker 4

But tell this story quickly about your friend who came out in the sports industry. And how about that? Because you and I met a few years ago, and you were a very different person when I met you then you had some evolving to do and some learning. You were completely open to it, but that also impacted you.

[00:24:32.600] – Speaker 3

That’s the key, is being open to it, because on one end my church is saying one thing. And listen, I’ve always admitted, just because you’re a believer and I’m Jewish, too, but just because you’re a believer, boy, we sin all the time. I mean, we are not perfect. And there’s some things in the Bible, this is one of them that I have a problem with. Because I am for equal marriage. I am. But I learned it from you, Angela, and it takes education. And I did. I had one of my players who came out of the closet. I was shocked. And I think before I met you, I would have really been down on him. What is wrong with you? But I understand now. And I never thought I would. So I think, first of all, people need to it was just like AIDS. People were not educated. Do you remember that? People were afraid of everything. And that’s what we do with this show. That’s what Angela is getting started and getting ready to do. She’s going into the beast’s mouth. She jokes about Alabama. That’s going to be a tough place to start. But it’s about education.

[00:26:08.390] – Speaker 3

And, Angela, I got to tell you, whoever is using you, they pick the perfect person, because the way you explain is you don’t put people down. And it’s just like you should have been a professor at this. But you just happen to be a great lawyer, though. And I got to tell you and I could really get in trouble doing this because we have all kinds of experts, but if I’m part of the LBGT community, I want you to represent me. But even if I’m not, I want you to represent me, whether it’s estate planning, business law, employment law, or family law. And we wanted to talk about estate planning today because there’s so much this is a government tangent. I’m sorry.

[00:27:06.440] – Speaker 4

No, this is a good catch-up session.

[00:27:08.150] – Speaker 3

The news, you know, with what the Senate has done. And as much as I try to keep up with it, I didn’t know if the president had signed off on it. So we still have a ways to go. But now I understand more. Angela, there’s a lot more to this than there is.

[00:27:26.940] – Speaker 4

And to your point, it’s all about staying open, right? And it’s all about treating one another with respect, both personally and professionally, as we’ll see what happens with those Supreme Court cases in terms of in the workplace or in commerce. But, yeah, we have a ways to go just as a human race, just as people loving and respecting one another. And then what I can do as an LGBTQ advocate to make life a little bit easier for the LGBTQ community as we navigate this political climate that is unfortunately full of vitriol and is inherently unsafe, especially for LGBTQ kids. So we all do our part. But to have people like you allies, you’re a true ally now, and I’ve watched you evolve over the years, and I watch you stay open. You still stumble over LGBTQ, but I love you.

[00:28:29.970] – Speaker 3

Well, I try to ask questions that people who where I was, like, three years ago. Now we have questions because we don’t understand. But you help us to understand, though. So tell people how they can reach you. And what’s your social media and your podcast.

[00:29:05.070] – Speaker 4

Sure. So you can find me on social at @yourgaylawyer on Instagram, as my handle, Facebook, Philly gay lawyer. You can call the office at 215-645-2415 and you can go on my blog at Lawyer.LGBT.

[00:29:21.570] – Speaker 3

Angela, you’re the best.

[00:29:23.410] – Speaker 4

You, too, Steve. Good to see you.

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