The Senate on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriage, an extraordinary sign of a shift in national policy on the issue and a measure of relief for hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage. nationwide marriage. A bill that would have enshrined same-sex and interracial marriage in federal law passed 61-36 on Tuesday, including the support of 12 Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation was “long overdue” and part of America’s “difficult but relentless march toward greater equality.”
President Joe Biden praised the bipartisan vote
Democrats are making rapid progress while the party still holds majorities in both houses of Congress. The legislation will now move to the House for a final vote. President Joe Biden praised the bipartisan vote and said he would sign the bill “immediately and proudly” if it passes the House. He said it would ensure that LGBTQ youth “grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”
The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June ruling that struck down federal abortion rights, a decision that included a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also be threatened. Bipartisan negotiations in the Senate began this summer when 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted in favor of the House bill, giving supporters renewed optimism.
The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all legal marriages where they have taken place and protect current same-sex unions if the court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision is to be overturned. It’s overwhelming bipartisan support and evidence of societal change after years of bitter divisiveness on the issue. A new law protecting same-sex marriage would also be a major victory for Democrats who have relinquished two years of consolidated power in Washington, and a massive victory for advocates who have been pushing the federal legislation for decades.
Schumer said Tuesday that wearing the tie he wore to his daughter’s wedding was “one of the happiest moments of my life.” He also recalled the “heartbreaking conversation” he had with his daughter and her wife in September 2020 when they heard that liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. “Could our right to marry be revoked?” they asked then.
In an effort to get the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome a 50-50 Senate filibuster, Democrats have delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping to ease political pressure on GOP senators who might waver. Possible support from 12 Republicans gave Democrats the votes they needed.
Along with Tillis, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman soon backed the bill and lobbied their GOP colleagues to support it. Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Just before the passage, Collins thanked her fellow Republicans for supporting her. “I know it wasn’t easy, but they did the right thing,” Collins said.
Lummis, one of the more conservative members of the Senate, spoke before the final vote of her “pretty brutal search for herself” before supporting the bill. She said she accepts her church’s belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, but noted that the country was founded on the separation of church and state. “We do well to take this step, not to accept or validate each other’s partisan views, but by the simple act of tolerating them,” Lummis said. Baldwin said earlier this month that the newfound openness of many Republicans on the issue reminds her of “the arc of the LBGTQ movement in the beginning, in the early days when people weren’t out and people knew gay people based on myths and stereotypes. “And laws slowly followed,” she said. “It’s history.