In a historic step that follows months of bipartisan negotiations, the Respect for Marriage Act, the landmark legislation cementing federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage, was passed by Senate on Tuesday.
In a bid to attract the necessary GOP votes to break a filibuster, senators spent months negotiating adding language to the bill related to religious liberty that stated it would not impact provisions from a 1993 religious freedom law, which prohibits the government from placing a substantial burden on a person’s right to religious liberty.
In a landmark bipartisan vote 61-36 vote, senators put the landmark bill just a critical step closer to President Joe Biden’s desk and becoming law.
The measure, which required 60 votes to pass, got the support of 12 Republicans – the same one that backed the bill for a procedural vote earlier this month- which joined forces with all members of the Democratic caucus to advance it across the Capitol complex.
The legislation must now be approved by the House, which is expected to pass it before the end of the year, maybe even next week – before advancing to Biden, who pointed out that for millions of Americans, this bill will safeguard the rights and protections that LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled to.
Though these protections for same-sex marriages were initially handed down by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges back in 2015, many feared that after the high court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer, they might also be in jeopardy.
The bill would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage, which would be helpful if the Supreme Court might overturn its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage but will not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, so any state could still pass a law to ban same-sex marriage.
The bill would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act- which passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin in 1996 – which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
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