Twelve Republicans voted along with all Democrats to advance a bill that would ensure same-sex unions are enshrined in Federal law of the US.
The US Senate took a major step towards protecting same-sex and interracial marriages as they advanced the Respect for Marriage Act, 62-37, to a final vote. Congress is on track to take the historic step of ensuring that same-sex unions are enshrined in federal law and the final vote could come this week or later in the month.
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As per reports, 12 Republicans voted along with all Democrats to move forward on the legislation on November 16. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said the bill ensuring same-sex unions are legally recognised under the law is a chance for the Senate to protect marriage equality for all people, The Guardian reported.
The new legislation would repeal the Clinton-era, 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which prevents same-sex couples whose marriage was recognised in their home state from getting several benefits and defines that marriage could occur only between man and a woman.
The legislation will require all states to recognize same-sex marriages which are performed in other states. However, it will not prevent individual states from passing laws that ban those marriages.
“With the Respect for Marriage Act, we can ease the fear that millions of same-sex and interracial couples have – that their freedoms and their rights could be stripped away – by passing this bill. We are guaranteeing same-sex and interracial couples, regardless of where they live, that their marriage is legal, and that they will continue to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that all other marriages are afforded,” Democratic Senator and the first openly gay woman elected to the US Senate, Tammy Baldwin, said Wednesday as per a VOA News report.
The Senate Democrats are acting swiftly to pass the bill as the Republicans are on the verge of winning the House majority and would be unlikely to take up the issue next year.
A proposed amendment to the bill, negotiated by supporters is likely to bring more Republicans on board. The amendment would clarify that it does not affect rights of private individuals or businesses that are already enshrined in law. Another adjustment would make it clear that a marriage is between two people, to avoid far-right criticism that the legislation could endorse polygamy.
The growing support for the legislation and the issue is a sharp contrast from a decade ago, when many Republicans vocally opposed same-sex marriages.
Earlier on Tuesday, in a stunning move, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a conservative-leaning group backed the legislation. In a statement, it said, “the church doctrine would continue to consider same-sex relationships to be against God’s commandments, but it would support rights for same-sex couples as long as they didn’t infringe upon religious groups’ right to believe,” as per the Guardian report.
(Edited by : Jerome Anthony)