In a landmark vote, the Senate cleared bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages offering relief to same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalised gay marriage.
President Joe Biden hailed the passage of the bill and said, “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.”
The bill, which would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, got passed with 61-36 votes on Tuesday, including support from 12 Republicans. At the time of passage, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer termed the legislation as ‘long time coming’ and part of America’s ‘difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.’
Democrats are supporting the bill, while the party still holds the majority in both chambers of Congress. The legislation will now head to the House for a final vote, reported news agency AP.
The President said the bill will ensure that LGBTQ youth “will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”
The bill has been pushed since the Supreme Court’s June decision overturned the federal right to an abortion, a ruling that supported the opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat. Bipartisan Senate negotiations began this summer when 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted for a House bill offering new optimism to supporters.
What is the bill all about?
Under the law, no state will be forced to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions, if the court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision were to be overturned. The Senate passage of the bill is seen as a stunning bipartisan endorsement and a sign of societal change followed by years of divisiveness on the issue.
The new bill would also mean a major victory for Democrats, and a massive win for advocates who have been actively pushing for federal legislation. The passage comes amid violent attacks faced by the LGBTQ community in which five people were killed and 17 injured after an attack in a gay nightclub in Colorado.