BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Bentonville woman got married to her wife days before congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act and it made her and her wife appreciate the significance of their marriage even more.

Sadie Ragan met her wife exactly a year before they got married, on Dec. 4. They met on a dating app and hit it off. Ragan’s wife moved to Northwest Arkansas to live with her and their kids.

Ragan said getting married the same week the Respect for Marriage Act passed was monumental.

“This marriage equality bill was going to be monumental no matter what, but for us to be getting married basically at the same time, definitely adds a layer of meaning to it. I think that it makes us appreciate our wedding, our marriage and our life that much more,” said Ragan.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. Following the overturn of Roe. v. Wade in June, Ragan became concerned the 2015 ruling would be next.

“There was some panic. We thought- what will happen in terms of our kids? What will happen in terms of our finances, my rights to all the benefits that my wife gets as a veteran? So, this weekend is just an enormous relief,” said Ragan.

Jordan Ruud, the president of the River Valley Equality Center, said the bill’s passing is historic and groundbreaking. However, it doesn’t cover everything.

“States are forced to recognize marriages that have happened in other states, but it does take away the issue where Obergefell allows marriages to happen in all states,” said Ruud.

Ruud doesn’t expect the 2015 Supreme Court ruling to be overturned. On the whole, Ruud believes people are in support of same-sex marriages, but he said the need for this kind of legislation raises questions within the LGBTQ+ community.

“The question is, if something like Obergefell can be overturned, what else might happen in the future? I think a lot of people feel like there’s been kind of a step backward in terms of the social atmosphere toward LGBTQ people,” said Ruud.

At the same time that Ruud is happy this significant piece of legislation is about to get signed into law, he wishes that there was more acceptance in the community.

Ragan said it feels odd to be celebrating marriage equality when many same-sex couples thought their marriages were already protected. Ragan believes there are bigger topics in the LGBTQ+ community that now need attention, such as people who identify as trans and non-binary.

“It feels like, as a gay person, I can celebrate. But, not too loudly, because it feels like many of my friends are still left out and still have so few rights,” said Ragan.

Ruud also feels like there isn’t enough being done for trans individuals.

“I know a lot of trans people who basically just withdrawn into themselves because of this atmosphere of lack of acceptance. It’s sad that it’s that way. I hope, I really hope that’s the next sort of frontier,” said Ruud.

With congress passing the Respect for Marriage Act and her new marriage, Ragan is hopeful for the future.

“It makes us remember a time when this wasn’t possible, and now we don’t have to worry about a time where it won’t be again,” said Ragan.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law any day now.

Some Republican lawmakers have spoken out against the decision made by congress to pass the Respect for Marriage Act.

In a statement issued Thursday, Representative Bruce Westerman said the marriage between a man and a woman “predates any government”.

“The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ not only overreaches into that institution, but it directly threatens Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion by opening individuals to litigation in retaliation for their deeply held beliefs and revoking or changing faith-based organizations’ tax-exempt status for their stance on same-sex marriage. Our constitution leaves no room for negotiation when it states Congress may make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. This bill is a clear example of government overreach and presents real dangers to Americans’ First Amendment rights, and for that reason, I cannot support it.”

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)

Ahead of the bill’s passing Thursday, Sen. James Lankford issued his statement.

“The Respect for Marriage Act has serious problems in the text that will create years of litigation and distrust across the country. The bill was intentionally written to exclude religious and conscience protections for individuals, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations and will further subject them to harassment and lawsuits for living out their faith and partnering with the government. All Americans should be honored, and no one should be discriminated against. But, as President Obama stated in 2015, ‘Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs.’ Today’s vote unnecessarily chose to run over millions of people who hold those deeply held beliefs.”

Rep. James Lankford (R-OK)