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Senate passes bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage against GOP opposition | Main stories

WASHINGTON (NBC) — The Senate on Tuesday passed landmark legislation codifying federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage, with Democrats winning enough votes to overcome opposition from most Republicans.

The The Respect for Marriage Act was approved 61-36 with unanimous Democratic support and 12 GOP votes after defeating a filibuster and rejecting three amendments proposed by Republicans who oppose the bill.

Measure now returns to the House for a final vote before it can be sent to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

The Senate vote reflects a rapid increase in public support for legal same-sex marriage, which reached a new high of 71% in Gallup tracks the polls in June, compared to just 27% in 1996, when Gallup first began polling on the issue.

“We’re making a really positive difference in people’s lives by creating confidence that their ability to protect their families will last,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, R-Wis., the bill’s author and the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Senate, told NBC News.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before Tuesday’s vote that he wore the same tie he wore to his daughter and his wife’s wedding. “It’s personal for me,” he told reporters.

Baldwin recently revised measure to win Republican votes by adding language that makes clear that religious organizations will not be required to perform same-sex marriages and that the federal government is not required to protect polygamous marriages.

For some Republicans, support for the bill backfired.

“My days following the first closed-door vote on the Respect for Marriage Amendment Act included agonizing exercises in accepting caveats and some pretty brutal introspection – which I might add could have been avoided if I had simply decided to vote ‘no’ » Senator Cynthia Loomis of Wyoming, one of the supporters of the Republican Party, said in the Senate.

“I and many like me have been humiliated and scorned by some who do not agree with our beliefs. They cannot bear bitter grudges. They use their own hate speech to make sure that I and others who believe the same thing that they hate and despise us,” she added.

The law came after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down the constitutional right to an abortion, causing fears that the justices may also reconsider their liberal precedents enshrining marriage rights for gay and interracial couples.

The bill would require the federal government to recognize marriages that were valid in the state at the time they were entered into. It would also provide full benefits to marriages “regardless of the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of the couple,” but the bill would not require the state to issue a marriage license, which is contrary to state law.

But if the bill becomes law and the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage, Americans could potentially travel to another state and get married if it’s not legal in their state.

“It ensures that no matter where you live, if you get married in a state where it’s legal, they have to recognize it wherever you are,” said a Democratic aide familiar with the legislation. “And you have the same rights and privileges and responsibilities and freedoms wherever you are.”

Schumer held a lengthy procedural vote on Monday as Democrats sought to strike a deal with GOP senators who threatened to delay the process if they did not get votes on the amendments. The camera analyzed three of them: one by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, at the 60-vote threshold, and two Sens. James Lankford, R-Ok., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both needed a simple majority to pass. After they failed, the bill passed.

One Democrat, Sen. Raphael Warnock, missed the vote as he campaigns in Georgia in next week’s Senate runoff against Republican Herschel Walker.

Most Republicans opposed legislation, even though preliminary procedural votes made it almost clear that the bill had enough GOP support to pass. Sponsors wanted to pass the measure in a “lame duck” session before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3.


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