House expected to pass bill on same-sex marriages, showing shift in attitudes

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A bill protecting federal recognition of same-sex marriages is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives today with bipartisan support, Reuters reports.

It marks a sign of a significant cultural shift in a divided nation.

The Respect for Marriage Act passed in the U.S. Senate last week and then headed to the House. It was designed as a backstop to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.

The bill has the support of both LGBTQ advocates and religious groups. 

The legislation would allow the federal government to continue recognizing same-sex and interracial marriages in states where they were legally performed, should the court strike down Obergefell. 

There have been major concerns that the Supreme Court could soon strike down Obergefell after it overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending the nationwide right to abortion. 

A bipartisan amendment added in November affirmed that the bill on same-sex marriages would not subvert existing religious freedoms, helping quell initial opposition by conservatives. 

The bill, which was spearheaded by a group of Democratic and Republican senators, gained the backing of several national religious groups.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, an American Baptist reverend and president of Interfaith Alliance, said the support for the bill from religious groups showed that many had undergone a “remarkable transformation” in the way they perceive same-sex marriage.

The amendment’s support from various religious groups that are theologically opposed to same-sex marriage reflects the fact that attitudes have changed, also said Tim Schultz, the president of the 1st Amendment Partnership, which advocates for religious liberty.

But some more conservative religious groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, strongly opposed the legislation even after the religious freedom protections were added.

Several conservative senators pushed back against this characterization of the bill, which ultimately received support from a dozen Republicans.

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