Home USA News Same-sex marriage bill passes Senate; lawmakers reject GOP religious freedom amendment

Same-sex marriage bill passes Senate; lawmakers reject GOP religious freedom amendment


Bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage under federal law passed the Senate on Tuesday with the help of a dozen Republicans, ending months of bipartisan negotiations on how to address religious freedom issues.

The bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act, narrowly won the House by a vote of 61-36, one more than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

The landmark measure now heads to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass next Tuesday before heading to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, whose daughter is married to a woman and about to give birth, praised the passage.

“I’m thinking not only of them and the millions of Americans who will be affected, but also of my future grandson,” the New York Democrat told reporters. “This child will now grow up in a more accepting, inclusive and loving world, one that will honor their mother’s marriage and give it the dignity it deserves.”

Three amendments proposed by Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah to strengthen religious freedom and exemptions to freedom in the bill were rejected.

They included provisions that bar government agencies from prosecuting those who oppose same-sex marriage, such as the Internal Revenue Service stripping organizations of tax-exempt status, the Department of Education imposing an honor code, or denying private individuals business licenses.

Most Republicans feared that the designation, already included in the legislation for nonprofit religious groups that do not want to provide same-sex marriage services, such as churches, would fail to protect them from lawsuits by others.

“My amendment simply prohibits the federal government from discriminating against schools, businesses and organizations based on their religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage,” Mr. Lee said. “That’s all he does.”

Mr. Lee’s amendment required 60 votes to pass, while Mr. Lankford’s and Mr. Rubio’s amendments required a simple majority. Final passage required 60 votes under the fast-track legislative agreement.

Some of the GOP senators who voted for the legislation also supported the amendments, but argued that their inclusion would have resulted in Democrats derailing the bill.

While the Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges recognized same-sex marriage as a federal constitutional right, Democrats feared the conservative Supreme Court could overturn the ruling, as it did in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a right for nearly 50 people. years ago.

Among the 12 Republicans who supported the same-sex marriage bill along with 49 Democrats were Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Tom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capita of West Virginia, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cynthia Lamis of Wyoming, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana.

Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is campaigning in a Dec. 6 Georgia runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, did not vote.

The bill also provides protections for interracial marriages and confirms that polygamous marriages are not recognized by the federal government.

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