US Senate bill to protect same-sex marriage clears major hurdle | LGBTQ News

A bill guaranteeing federal recognition of same-sex marriage has removed a procedural hurdle in the US Senate as the US Supreme Court could undermine those rights in the future.

Fifty Democrats and 12 Republicans voted Wednesday to limit debate on the bill before a final vote, which would require the federal government to recognize any legal marriage in the state in which it was performed.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the results of the vote, thanking Congress for sending “a strong message that Republicans and Democrats can work together to secure the basic right of Americans to marry the person they love.”

Biden also urged U.S. lawmakers to approve the bill and send it to his office; The measure will have to go through a number of procedural steps in the Senate before returning to the House of Representatives for a final vote and, if passed, Biden’s signature.

LGBTQ rights advocates are increasingly concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down abortion rights in a landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, may overturn a 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.

The bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, would not prevent states from banning same-sex or interracial marriages if a future Supreme Court ruling allows them to do so.

With Republicans poised to take control of the House of Representatives in the new term, the passage of such legislation is almost certain to face stiffer hurdles in the near future. Meanwhile, Republican senators may feel less pressure to appeal to segments of the party still opposed to same-sex marriage now that the polls are closed.

“I strongly believe that passing bipartisan marriage protections would be one of the most significant accomplishments of what has already been a very productive Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the House of Commons. bill is submitted to a first vote.

“It will do so much good for so many people who want nothing more than to live their lives without fear of discrimination.”

Same-sex and interracial marriage is federally legal in the United States. Next the 2015 Supreme Court Obergefell v Hodges decision and the 1967 Loving v Virginia decision, respectively.

However, the lawyers argued that the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court could deploy similar reasoning used to overturn Roe v Wade — a decision that removed federal abortion rights protections — to overturn rulings on the marriage and refer the question of their legality to the state. Governments.

These concerns were prompted by Conservative Judge Clarence Thomas, who wrote in his Roe opinion that Obergefell v. Hodges was among several cases that should be reconsidered. The cases he listed did not refer to Loving v Virginia.

Yet the legislation pushed by Democrats would not outright legalize same-sex and interracial marriage, nor would it prevent states from banning such marriages if a Supreme Court ruling allows it. Instead, it would require the federal government to recognize any legal marriage in the state where it was performed.

LGBTQ advocates demonstrate outside the White House in Washington, DC, USA [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

The effort comes as same-sex marriage is becoming more accepted in the United States, with a recent poll showing that more than two-thirds of the public support same-sex unions.

A similar bill, which passed the House in July, received more support from Republicans than expected, with 47 party members joining all House Democrats in support.

Most Senate Republicans remained silent ahead of Wednesday’s vote, with just three party members – Susan Collins, Thom Tillis and Rob Portman – saying they would vote yes.

Proposed changes to the legislation, negotiated by supporters to win over more Republicans, would clarify that it does not affect the rights of individuals or businesses. Another change would clarify that a marriage is between two people, an effort to stave off some far-right criticism that the legislation may condone polygamy.

More open societal attitudes towards gay rights showed up in the midterm elections, with a record number of 678 openly LGBTQ candidates – running as both Democrats and Republicans – appearing on the ballot in the election. general, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

It came amid a deluge of state-level legislation that advocates say has targeted the rights of LGBTQ people — particularly transgender people — in recent years.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the latest conservative-leaning group to back the legislation.

In a statement, the Utah-based church said its doctrine would continue to hold same-sex relationships as contrary to God’s commandments, but would support the rights of same-sex couples as long as they did not violate the rights of religious groups. . believe as they see fit.

Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who became the first openly gay member of the US Senate in 2012, said the new acceptance among some conservative groups in the US comes as more LGBTQ individuals and families have become visible. , changing hearts and minds on the matter.

“And slowly the laws followed,” she said. “It’s history.”

Norman D. Briggs