WASHINGTON: On Tuesday, the US Senate passed landmark legislation protecting same-sex marriage. Lawmakers from both parties are attempting to prevent the conservative-led Supreme Court from taking away this human right, just as they did with abortion.
“I am pleased to see bipartisan support for the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate today,” President Joe Biden said. The bill is expected to pass through the House of Representatives.
Many in the House of Representatives are eager to send it back to the Senate, where they believe it will pass next week before it’s signed by Vice President Joe Biden.”
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer hailed a momentous step forward for LGBTQ Americans. “We are not done fighting,” he said, “but we have made America better today.”
Twelve Republicans joined Democrats to pass the legislation, which had been a deeply divisive issue in America for decades.
As of 2015, same-sex unions are protected by the Supreme Court in the US. Recently, however, the court overturned a long-standing ruling that protected abortion rights. The court’s decision has left many progressives afraid that same-sex marriages may also be under attack at some point in the future.
Democrats have been working with urgency to make the bill happen while they still have power in Congress.
The Democrats won the Senate in this month’s midterm elections, but they lost the House to the Republicans. The latter didn’t get as many seats in Congress as they expected so when the new Congress takes power in January, there will probably be a lot of gridlocks.
Despite the bill’s passage, same-sex marriage is still illegal in most states.
The SCOTUS decision wasn’t what both sides wanted, but it did open the door for same-sex marriages and defined them as a union between two people rather than one man and one woman.
If the Supreme Court were to overturn its 2015 ruling and ban same-sex marriages, a state that prohibits them would still have to recognize this kind of marriage that is legal in other states. This also applies to interracial marriages.
“Today’s vote is deeply personal for many of us in this chamber,” said Schumer as he wore a tie that he also wore at his lesbian daughter’s wedding.
A similar bill was already passed in June by the House of Representatives. All the chamber’s Democrats supported it, and 47 Republicans did too.
A new vote was needed in the House to reconcile the two bills, which was seen as a formality.
The influential American Civil Liberties Union lauded the “historic step forward” but also criticized the increase in anti-transgender legislation in a number of states.
The ACLU has released a statement in response to the vote. “While we welcome this measure, members of Congress must also fight as trans lives depend on their efforts,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Rights Project, said in a statement. “Trans lives do.”
A large majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. However, some Republicans voted ‘no’ on Tuesday and religious groups are still largely against them.