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US Senate passes bipartisan bill to protect same-sex marriage | LGBTQ News


The US Senate voted 61 to 36 to pass Respect the Marriage Acta bill that would introduce same-sex and interracial marriage protections in federal law.

Twelve Republicans joined the 49 Democrats present to support the landmark legislation, which prohibits states from denying “out-of-state marriages based on sex, race, ethnicity or national origin”.

The bill also “repeals and supersedes” any federal language that defines marriage as between individuals of the opposite sex.

Tuesday’s bipartisan victory came in the final weeks of the Democratic-controlled Congress. The bill now returns to the House of Commons, expected to move to Republican Party Leader when the 118th Congress was sworn in on January 3.

In a speech minutes before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, welcomed bipartisan support for the bill, saying he planned to call his daughter and his wife to celebrate.

“For millions of Americans, today is a very good day. An important day. Schumer said: “The day has come a long way.

“The long but unshakable journey towards greater equality is moving forward. By passing this bill, the Senate is sending a message that every American needs to hear: No matter who you are or who you love, you deserve to be treated equally and with dignity before the law. .”

Chuck Schumer talks to colleagues, all wearing black vests, as a photographer standing behind them holds up his camera
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gathers with Democrats for a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s vote on the Respect for Marriage Act [Sarah Silbiger/Reuters]

But in the hours before Tuesday’s vote, Senate Republicans such as James Lankford of Oklahoma raised concerns that the Respect for Marriage Act would impede religious freedom in the United States and propose propose amendments to the bill.

“Is today about respecting the rights of all, or is it about silencing some and respecting others?” Lankford said.

A Gallup poll found that support for same-sex marriage in the US has hit a record high of 70% in 2021. It’s also the first time Gallup has recorded a majority of Republicans in favor of same-sex marriage. gender, at a rate of 55 percent.

“Existing federal law does not reflect the will or beliefs of the American people on this matter,” Ohio Republican Rob Portman said in a speech in support of the Respect for Marriage Act on May 16. 11. “Current statute authorizes states and governments to deny legal same-sex marriage.”

Since 2015, the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court decision has guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry. But laws like the Marriage Protection Act of 1996 – which defines marriage as “between a man and a woman” and denies federal recognition to same-sex couples – are still on the books, though not. enforceable.

While the Respect for Marriage Act would not codify Obergefell’s ruling, it would repeal laws such as the Marriage Protection Act. It would also require states to recognize all legal marriages where they are performed and to protect existing same-sex marriages.

The current attempt to pass the Respect for Marriage Act comes after the Supreme Court’s June decision. Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Foundationoverturned half a century of defending access to abortion.

During a Senate session on Monday, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden pointed to Dobbs’ decision as the impetus to vote in favor of the bill.

“Some members of this agency have questioned why we need to pass this bill when marriage equality is the law of the country,” Wyden said. “The answer is quite simple. The Dobbs ruling, which overturns Roe versus Wade, shows that the Senate cannot take any modern legal precedent for granted.”

The majority opinion in the Dobbs decision, written by Judge Samuel Alito, denied that the ruling would affect court precedents beyond abortion.

But a concurring opinion, issued by Justice Clarence Thomas, suggested that the court should “reconsider all substantive procedural precedents of this Court,” naming Obergefell’s decision. 2015 among them.

On July 19, just weeks after Dobbs’ decision, House Democrats passed the Respect for Marriage Act with the support of 47 Republicans – a bipartisan vote. unexpectedly signaled a clear split in the Republican stance on same-sex marriage.

Top Republicans in the House, including Minority Leaders Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise, opposed the bill, while Republican number three, Elise Stefanik of New York, voted in favor.

US Senator Susan Collins is surrounded by reporters in the halls of Congress
US Senator Susan Collins, seen on Tuesday, was among the Republicans voting for the Respect for Marriage Act [Sarah Silbiger/Reuters]

Once passed by the House, the Respect for Marriage Act faced a higher margin in the equally divided Senate, which needed 60 votes to pass an objection.

Senate Democrats have delayed voting on the bill until after the US holds midterm elections to ease pressure on Republicans and garner greater support of bipartisanship. Republicans have pushed for numerous amendments to be made to the bill under the pretext of protecting religious freedom.

The bill passed Tuesday includes language that explicitly prohibits polygamous marriages and ensures that the bill cannot be used to target or deny government interests, including sexual relations. tax-exempt status, based on religious beliefs. In a check vote Monday, 12 Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting in favor of the amendment.

Religious groups also supporting the bill, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), welcomed the bill for its “measures to protect religious freedom while respecting the law. laws and protect the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”

“It’s remarkable that the Senate is starting this debate,” Schumer said Monday. “A decade ago, all our imaginations would have been strained to picture both sides talking about defending the rights of same-sex couples.”

But Tuesday’s vote was preceded by further proposed amendments to the bill, from Senators including Lankford and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Portman, a Republican, urged his party on Tuesday to support the Respect for Marriage Act. He dismissed “false” concerns that the bill would make “institutions and individuals trying to live up to their sincere beliefs” vulnerable to litigation.

Portman said the bill “reflects a national policy that respects diverse beliefs about the roles of gender and marriage, and protects the rights of same-sex couples.”

Another Republican, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, told the Senate that, while she believes “God’s word defines marriage,” she would support the Respect for Marriage Act.

“These are tumultuous times for our nation,” Lummis said, citing an increase in harsh words. “We do well by taking this step, not by endorsing or affirming each other’s religious views, but by the simple act of tolerating them.”

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