In a bipartisan vote, the Senate advanced legislation on Wednesday that would grant federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages bringing it one step closer to becoming law.
A key litmus test of support for the Respect for Marriage Act was the 62 to 37 vote. The Senate easily overcame the 60-vote procedural requirement necessary to advance the legislation with the support of 12 Republican senators.
After a bipartisan group of senators made adjustments to the bill to protect religious liberty, the plan’s authors were optimistic that it would receive enough support from the GOP.
Republicans who supported the bill’s passage include-
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Susan Collins of Maine
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Mitt Romney of Utah
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Todd Young of Indiana
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate sought to schedule Wednesday’s procedural vote shortly after the five senators who were involved in negotiations over the proposal announced their amendment on Monday.
As soon as the 60-vote threshold is met, debate on the proposal can begin, advancing it closer to final approval. In his remarks from the Senate floor prior to the vote, Schumer said that by approving the Respect for Marriage Act, the Senate was “taking a truly brave step forward in the march toward greater justice, better equality.”
It’s a straightforward, specifically targeted, but incredibly significant piece of legislation that will benefit so many Americans and make our nation a better, fairer place to live.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican who participated in the Senate negotiations, emphasized the widespread public support for same-sex marriage and said that for the majority of Americans, the issue of marriage equality is undisputed.
Through this law, we’ve demonstrated that both rights—religious freedom on the one hand and LGBTQ rights on the other—can coexist, according to Portman. “I’m hoping that with the reforms we’ve discussed today and have now all agreed to, we can approve this law with the kind of resounding bipartisan majority we saw in the Houses of Representatives and therefore put an end to this issue once and for all,” he said.
Acknowledgment of Lawful Marriages
By requiring the acknowledgment of lawful marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin,” the Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Defense of Marriage Act from the Clinton administration and protects same-sex and interracial unions.
Introduced following the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and amid Democratic worries that rulings from the high court protecting the right to same-sex marriage were in jeopardy due to Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, the bill easily passed the House in July with support from 47 Republicans.
Although a number of Republican senators at first supported the proposal, Schumer eventually decided to postpone a vote until after the midterm elections because several Republicans were concerned that it would jeopardize religious freedom.
In order to allay their worries, the amendment guarantees nonprofit religious organizations won’t be required to provide goods, services or facilities for the celebration of same-sex marriage.
It also safeguards the protections for religious liberty and conscience provided by the Constitution and federal law, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Additionally, it is made explicit that the measure forbids the federal government from recognizing polygamy and protects any advantage or status of an entity, such as tax exemptions, grants, contracts or educational support, as long as it does not result from marriage.
According to the bipartisan group, the amendment “acknowledges the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability and ongoing protection of marriage.”
The bill will need to be reintroduced to the House after the adjustment is made before it can be signed by Vice President Biden. The White House pushed for the legislation’s approval.
In a declaration of administration policy, the White House budget office stated that “the right to marriage confers crucial legal protections, dignity and full participation in our society.”
Every married couple in the United States deserves the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their marriage will be upheld and protected. No one should be subjected to prejudice because of who they are or whom they love.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also spoke out in favor of the amended law with the protections for religious liberty before the procedural vote.
In a statement, the Mormon church stated that it thought this strategy was the best course of action. “Much can be done to mend ties and develop greater understanding as we work together to protect the ideals and practices of religious freedom along with the rights of LGBTQ folks.”
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