The Senate passed a bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage on Tuesday night.
Twelve Republican senators joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
Senators tweaked the bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled House in July, to get GOP support.
A bill designed to protect same-sex and interracial marriage passed the Senate by a 61-36 margin Tuesday night, with 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in voting for the bill.
Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who are opposed to the legislation, were not present to vote. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who supports the legislation, was also absent.
The chamber approved the bill after rejecting three amendments put forward by Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Marco Rubio of Florida, that were aimed at protecting religious liberties. Senators also took several procedural votes on the bill over the course of the last two weeks.
The bill, entitled the "Respect for Marriage Act," was first passed by the Democratic-controlled House in July amid concerns that the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in June might put marriage equality at risk as well.
In a concurring opinion to the court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which ended 50 years of a constitutional right to an abortion, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the precedent underpinning same-sex marriage — which was legalized by the Court in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling — should be "reconsidered" as well.
The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — a law that defined marriage as solely between a man and woman that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013 — while requiring states to recognize marriages performed in other states.
The legislation garnered 47 Republican votes when it passed the House in July, but momentum slowed when it reached the Senate, where Republicans expressed concerns about religious liberty.
A group of bipartisan senators that included Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — the only two openly LGBTQ members of the chamber — amended the legislation to assuage Republicans, releasing new bill text earlier this month.
A Gallup poll from June 2021 found that 70% of Americans — including 55% of Republicans — support same-sex marriage.
A vote had originally been planned before the November midterm elections, but was ultimately delayed at the request of the bipartisan group, which also included Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, who unexpectedly voted in favor of advancing the bill earlier this month, pointed to her own state's constitution in explaining her vote.
"Read the Wyoming Constitution. Article One, Section 3," she told Insider, declining to say whether she'd support final passage of the legislation.
That section of the state constitution states that the laws of Wyoming "affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than individual incompetency, or unworthiness duly ascertained by a court of competent jurisdiction."
The bill now heads back to the House. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday that the chamber could re-approve the bill as soon as next Tuesday. After that, President Joe Biden is expected to sign the new protections into law.
Here are the Republican senators who voted to pass the bill:
Susan Collins of Maine
Rob Portman of Ohio
Thom Tillis of North Carolina
Mitt Romney of Utah
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Roy Blunt of Missouri
Richard Burr of North Carolina
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
Dan Sullivan of Alaska
Todd Young of Indiana
Joni Ernst of Iowa
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