Mon | Jan 30, 2023

Landmark same-sex marriage bill wins US Senate passage

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2022 | 8:27 PM
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined from left by Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Senator Jon Tester, speaks to reporters before a vote on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, November 29, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages, an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision that legalised gay marriage nationwide.

The bill, which would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, was approved 61-36 on Tuesday, including support from 12 Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation was “a long time coming” and part of America's “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.”

Democrats are moving quickly, while the party still holds the majority in both chambers of Congress. The legislation now moves to the House for a final vote.

President Joe Biden praised the bipartisan vote and said he will sign the bill “promptly and proudly” if it is passed by the House. He said it will ensure that LGBTQ youth “will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”

The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court's June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, a ruling that included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat.

Bipartisan Senate negotiations got a kick-start this summer when 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted for a House bill and gave supporters new optimism.

The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognise all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions, if the court's 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision were to be overturned.

It's a stunning bipartisan endorsement, and evidence of societal change, after years of bitter divisiveness on the issue.

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