washington — The Senate on Wednesday pushed ahead with legislation that would offer federal protections to same-sex and interracial marriages, and approved the measure in a bipartisan vote that brings it closer to becoming a law.
The 62-37 vote was a crucial test of support for the bill, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act. With the support of 12 Republican members, the Senate easily cleared the 60-vote procedural hurdle needed to move the legislation forward. The plan’s drafters were optimistic that it would garner enough support from the GOP after a bipartisan panel of senatorsto protect religious freedom.
The Republicans who voted in favor of the bill are:
- Roy Blunt from Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia
- Susan Collins from Maine
- Joni Ernst from Iowa
- Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming
- Lisa Murkowski from Alaska
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Mitt Romney from Utah
- Dan Sullivan from Alaska
- Thom Tillis from North Carolina
- Todd Young of Indiana
Shortly after the five senators involved in negotiating the bill presented their amendment Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer began to initiate Wednesday’s procedural vote. Crossing the 60-vote threshold allows debate to begin on the measure and brings the legislation closer to final passage.
“Today, the Senate is taking a really bold step toward more justice, more equality, by moving forward with the Respect for Marriage Act,” Schumer said in a speech from the Senate before the vote. “It’s a simple, narrowly tailored, but hugely important piece of legislation that will do so much good for so many Americans. It will make our country a better and fairer place to live in.”
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican who served as a Senate negotiator, highlighted broad public support for same-sex marriage and noted that marriage equality was a settled issue for most Americans.
“We’ve shown here through this legislation that these rights can coexist, religious freedom on the one hand and LGBTQ on the other,” Portman said. “I hope that with the changes that we have discussed today and that we have now all agreed to, we can pass this bill with the same overwhelming bipartisan majority that we have seen in the Houses of Representatives and therefore solve this problem for once and for everyone.”
The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and protects same-sex and interracial marriages by requiring the recognition of valid marriages regardless of “gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
Introduced after the Supreme Court— and given Democrats’ concerns that a unanimous opinion by Judge Clarence Thomas left Supreme Court decisions protecting same-sex marriage rights in jeopardy — the bill easy in July with the support of 47 Republicans. Although several GOP senators initially expressed support for the plan, Schumer agreed to delay a vote on the bill until after the midterm elections after some Republicans feared it would jeopardize religious freedom.
To allay their concerns, the amendment ensures that nonprofit religious organizations are not required to provide services, facilities, or goods for the celebration of same-sex marriage and protects religious freedom and the protection of conscience required under the Constitution and federal law, including the Religious, are available law to restore freedom. It also clarifies that the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages and protects any benefit or status — such as tax exemptions, grants, contracts, or educational funding — of a corporation so long as it does not arise out of a marriage.
The amendment “recognises the importance of marriage, recognizes that different beliefs and the people who hold them have due respect, and reaffirms that couples, including same-sex and multiracial couples, should enjoy the dignity, stability and continued protection of marriage.” deserve,” the statement reads the bipartisan group.
With the amendment, the bill must again be taken up by the House of Representatives before it goes to President Biden’s desk for signature. The White House pushed for passage of the measure.
“The right to marry brings vital legal protection, dignity and full participation to our society,” the White House Budget Office said in an administrative policy statement. “No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love, and every married couple in the United States deserves the assurance that their marriage will be defended and respected.”
Before the procedural vote, thealso came to support the revised bill protecting religious freedom.
“We believe this approach is the way forward,” the Mormon Church said in a statement. “When we work together to uphold the principles and practices of religious freedom along with the rights of LGBTQ people, much can be done to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”