WASHINGTON — The Senate passed landmark legislation Tuesday that would codify federal protection for marriages of same-sex and interracial couples, with Democrats securing enough votes to overcome opposition from most Republicans.
The Respect for Marriage Act was approved 61-36, with support from all Democrats and 12 GOP votes, after a filibuster was defeated and three amendments offered by Republicans who oppose the bill were rejected.
The measure now returns to the House for a final vote before it can go to President Joe Biden, who said he looks forward to enacting it.
“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” Biden said in a statement.
The Senate vote reflects the rapidly growing public support for legal same-sex marriage, which hit a new high of 71% in Gallup tracking polls in June, up from just 27% in 1996, when Gallup first began polling the issue.
"We're making a really positive difference in people's lives by creating the certainty that their ability to protect their families will be lasting," said the author of the bill, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Senate.
Baldwin revised the measure to win some Republican votes by adding language to make it clear that religious organizations wouldn’t be required to perform same-sex marriages and that the federal government wouldn’t be required to protect polygamous marriages.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N. Y., said before the vote Tuesday that he was wearing the same tie he wore to the wedding of his daughter and her wife. "It's personal to me," he told reporters.
For some Republicans, backing the bill has sparked blowback.
“My days since the first cloture vote on the Respect for Marriage Act as amended have involved a painful exercise in accepting admonishment and fairly brutal self-soul-searching — entirely avoidable, I might add, had I simply chosen to vote 'no,'” Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, one of the GOP supporters, said on the Senate floor.... (Read more)
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