The Senate is set to vote on a bill protecting same-sex marriage

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriage, putting Congress…

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, moving closer to ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law.

Senate Democrats are moving quickly, while the party still holds majorities in both houses of Congress, to pass a bill requiring such unions to be legally recognized. The House would still have to vote on the legislation and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June decision struck down federal abortion rights, and comments by Justice Clarence Thomas at the time suggested same-sex marriage could also be threatened .

A test vote Monday night moved the legislation closer to approval, with 12 Republicans who previously supported the bill voting again to advance it. Democrats held a vote Tuesday afternoon after Republicans negotiated votes on three amendments to protect the rights of religious institutions and others to continue to oppose such marriages.

Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, as it is called, would be a major victory for Democrats as they open their two years of consolidated power in Washington and a massive victory for advocates who have pushed for decades for legislation federal to legalize them. sexual marriages.

While it would not codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, it would force states to recognize all legal marriages where they have been performed. It would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.”

“We know that, however, for all the progress we’ve made on same-sex marriage, the rights of all married couples will never be truly secure without adequate protection under federal law, and that’s why the Respect Act is needed marriage. ,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor before Monday’s vote.

The votes come as recent polls have found that more than two-thirds of the population support same-sex unions. But Congress was slower to act. Most Republicans oppose the law, and some conservative groups have lobbied against it, saying it is unnecessary and citing concerns about religious liberties. Democrats have delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping that would ease political pressure on some GOP senators who might weaken.

A proposed bipartisan amendment to the bill, negotiated by supporters to get more Republicans on board, would clarify that it does not affect the rights of individuals or businesses already enshrined in law. Another change would make it clear that a marriage is between two people, an effort to fend off some far-right criticism that the legislation could support polygamy.

The eventual support of twelve Republicans gave Democrats the votes needed to overcome a 50-50 Senate filibuster. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported the bill early and lobbied their GOP colleagues to support it. The other Republicans who voted for the legislation were Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

The GOP’s growing support for the issue is a stark contrast from just a decade ago, when many Republicans vocally opposed same-sex marriage. The legislation passed the House in a July vote with the support of 47 Republicans — a higher-than-expected number that gave the measure a boost in the Senate.

“It’s remarkable that the Senate is having this debate to begin with,” Schumer said, adding, “A decade ago, it would have stretched our imaginations to imagine both sides talking about protecting the rights of same-sex married couples.”

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