Senate Advances Bill on Codifying Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage, With Religious Protection

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“I hope, for the sake of tens of millions of Americans, that at least 10 Republicans will vote with us to put marriage equality into law soon," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

The Senate voted on Wednesday to move forward on the proposal to make marriage equality, with religious protections, into federal law in the United States.

“BIG NEWS: The Senate just voted to move forward on the Respect for Marriage Act,” Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer said in a tweet.

The Respect for Marriage Act needed 60 votes to advance in the upper House, which meant that it needed at least 10 Republican votes. After a bipartisan group of senators made adjustments to the bill to protect religious liberty, the plan's authors hoped it would receive that level of support from the GOP, and they were right.

The amendment "recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability and ongoing protection of marriage," the bipartisan committee said.

The bill will now be reintroduced in the House, where the revised version must pass before it can be signed into law by President Biden, according to CBS News.

Senators working together on a bipartisan committee released a statement Nov. 15 saying they are ready for their legislation to hit the Senate floor and be voted on. 

Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat representing Wisconsin, Republican Susan Collins of Maine, Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina, worked to create legislation in hopes to codify same-sex and interracial marriage, according to the statement. 

“The Respect for Marriage Act is a needed step to provide millions of loving couples in same-sex and interracial marriages the certainty that they will continue to enjoy the freedoms, rights, and responsibilities afforded to all other marriages."

An amendment to the legislation includes religious liberties, meaning that any non-profit religious organization will not be required to provide services, facilities, or goods for celebrating or for the solemnization of a marriage, the senators said. 

It also safeguards the protections for religious liberty and conscience provided by the Constitution and federal law, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Additionally, it is made explicit that the amendment does not authorize the federal government from recognizing polygamy.

If this legislation gets codified, the federal government is required to recognize any marriage between two people if their marriage was valid in the state it was held. It would also ensure that the couple’s marriage is given full “faith and credit” regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, or sex, according to the statement.

“I want to make clear that passing this bill is not a theoretical exercise, but it is as real as it gets. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Justice Thomas argued that other rights, like the right to marriage equality enshrined in Obergefell, could come next,” said Schumer, according to the congressional records.

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