Historic same-sex marriage bill advances in Senate

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The Senate is set to pass groundbreaking legislation this week to federally enshrine both same-sex and interracial marriage amid what Democrats call concerns that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority could overturn protections for both.

The first major test vote was Wednesday to kick off formal debate on the bill.

That procedural hurdle was cleared by a vote of 62 to 37, with 12 Republicans joining the 50-member Democratic caucus, which would see the measure passed as early as Thursday, if opponents agree to give up their dissent early before lawmakers move on. to go. the week-long Thanksgiving recess.

The 12 Republicans who voted yes were Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Todd Young of Indiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“Individuals in same-sex and interracial marriages need and deserve the confidence and assurance that their marriages are and will remain legal,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., a lead co-sponsor of the bill and the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to Congress, has said. “These loving couples should be given the same rights and freedoms as any other marriage.”

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“I know that passing the marriage respect law is as personal as it gets for many senators and their staff, including myself,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week. He noted that his own daughter and her wife, who are married, are expecting a baby in February.

Schumer has argued that the concurring opinion of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Roe. v. Wade this summer, in which he said the court “must reconsider” the case granting state law on same-sex marriage jeopardized the rights of LGBTQ Americans.

Activists carry a rainbow flag on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building during a protest on October 11, 2009.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images, FILE

Other Supreme Court justices had taken pains to distance Thomas’s position from the majority opinion opposing Roe.

The Respect for Marriage Act would “require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two people if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed,” according to a summary of the bill’s sponsors, including the country’s first openly bisexual woman. Congress in the United States. Senate, Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Thom Tillis, RN.C.

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The bill would not require any state to issue marriage licenses in violation of its laws, but would require states to recognize lawfully conferred marriages performed in other states, including same-sex marriages and interracial unions.

For Portman, whose son came out to him as gay several years ago, it’s about giving people “marriage security.”

“It is important to reassure people that they will not lose their rights when they move from state to state. It’s a pretty straightforward bill,” he said earlier, adding that the American people have evolved to support the issue and Congress should, too.

But ahead of Wednesday’s vote, some Republicans called the legislation unnecessary.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 15, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 15, 2022.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I think it is quite telling that Senator Schumer puts a bill on the floor to reaffirm what is already a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, which is not immediately threatened, and continues to ignore national security and not take the defense authorization bill,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, referring to the annual defense policy bill that has yet to pass the House this year.

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Senator John Thune, RS.D., in charge of voting operations for the GOP conference, has said he would not support the legislation, but also made it clear that he would not fight the measure.

Notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., steadfastly declined to say how he’d rather vote on the proposal. He finally voted “no” on Wednesday.

A similar bill passed the House in July with 47 Republicans voting in favor, but in order to gain enough GOP support for final approval, Senate sponsors had to amend the legislation to add specific religious freedom and protection of conscience.

Schumer also pushed a vote past the midterms, hoping to get more conservative votes in the Senate once the campaign’s political considerations were over.

The bill, passed once by the Senate and then passed a second time by the House, would be sent to President Joe Biden for signature.