The United States Senate voted to enshrine the right to same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law on Tuesday.
The Respect For Marriage Act passed on a 61-36 vote. Eleven Republicans voted with Democrats on the measure.
It now heads back to the House of Representatives, where it's likely to pass the Democrat-controlled chamber swiftly enough to head to President Joe Biden's desk before the current Congressional term is over.
Democrat Senator Tammy Baldwin, who helped spearhead the bill, appeared emotional on the chamber floor before the final vote.
Other Democrats dressed in symbolic shades to mark the historic legislation, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wearing the same tie he wore to his daughter's same-sex wedding and Senator Kyrsten Sinema coordinating her outfit to represent the colors of the bisexual pride flag.
'The Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act! This is a huge win in the fight to protect marriage equality,' Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal said in a statement after Tuesday's vote.
'There’s no time to waste. The House must act swiftly to get it to the President’s desk.'
The president hailed the bill's passage through the Senate as well, hailing the 'bipartisan achievement' while personally naming all 11 Republicans who voted for 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 sent out by the White House.
'Importantly, the Senate’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is a bipartisan achievement. I’m grateful to the determined Members of Congress — especially Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis, and Feinstein — whose leadership has underscored that Republicans and Democrats together support the essential right of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples to marry.'
He finished, 'I look forward to welcoming them at the White House after the House passes this legislation and sends it to my desk, where I will promptly and proudly sign it into law.
Sixty-one senators voted to advance the bill in a procedural maneuver on Monday, while 35 opposed it.
The Respect for Marriage Act first passed the House of Representatives in July in a 267 - 157 vote.
The bill does not force states to perform same-sex marriages, but mandates that all 50 recognize same-sex and interracial marriages conducted in any other state.... (Read more)
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