Senate to Vote on Legislation to Protect Same-Sex Marriage

The Senate is set to vote on legislation to protect same-sex marriage this week after bipartisan lawmakers came to an agreement on Monday to advance it.

Senate majority leader Charles Schumer made a motion to bring the bill to a first vote, scheduled for Wednesday, suggesting that Democrats secured the support of the ten Republicans needed to enact it.

“Because my top priority is to get things done in a bipartisan way whenever we can, we determined that this legislation was too important to risk failure, so we waited to give bipartisanship a chance,” Schumer said in a statement. “I hope for the sake of tens of millions of Americans that at least 10 Republicans will vote with us to protect marriage equality into law soon. The rights and dignity of millions of Americans depend on it.”

Revised legislation was unveiled Monday by a bipartisan group of senators including Democrats Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema and Republicans Susan Collins, Rob Portman, and Thom Tillis. The new version contains additional provisions, some to appease Republican concerns, such as one that ensures that nonprofit religious organizations won’t be coerced to help facilitate or endorse same-sex marriage.

So long as a religious-freedom amendment is attached to the final copy, Republican senator Mitt Romney said he’s onboard, according to the Hill.

“I’d like to get onto the bill,” he told the publication. “If that amendment is attached to the bill, I’ll vote for it.”

Any religious organization, according to the language of the text, “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” Refusal by such an entity to do any of the above on religious grounds will not result in litigation, the bill claims. The bill also excludes polygamous marriage from protection, as it specifies the union must be between “two” individuals.

Democrats proposed the legislation, originally dubbed the “Respect for Marriage Act,” to codify Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationally. The House approved the bill in July, with 47 Republicans signing onto it. The Senate postponed voting on the measure after the midterm elections.

The impetus for the progressive bill came after the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with conservative justice Clarence Thomas casting serious doubt on the principle of substantive due process in his opinion. He suggested that Obergefell should naturally come under scrutiny after Roe, given that neither the right to abortion nor same-sex marriage is enumerated in the Constitution.

The current form of the bill, H.R. 8404, aims to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, specifically the section that holds that states are not required to recognize same-sex marriage or benefits arising from it recognized in other states. The legislation would extend full faith and credit to marriage equality.

U.S. law would be changed to redefine marriage as: “For the purposes of any Federal law, rule, or regulation in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is between 2 individuals and is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into. . . .”

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