The U.S. Senate passed a bill providing new federal protections for same-sex marriage on Tuesday afternoon and sent the bill to the House with a bipartisan vote of 61 to 36, fulfilling Democrats’ promise to pass the bill before Republicans took control of the lower house. year.
The Respect for Marriage Act will mandate federal benefits, such as Social Security and health care, for same-sex couples, and will also require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which stated that marriage was between a “man and a woman” and effectively denied federal benefits for same-sex couples.
The Supreme Court’s Roe v. He passed the law after Wade overturned his case.
The bill passed the House in July but was suspended in the Senate to give Democrats more time to gather the expected 10 Republican votes they would need to avoid a filibuster.
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As the bill has been amended, it will need to be sent back to the House for final approval before President Joe Biden signs it into law. In an effort to garner the support of Republicans, the Senate amended the law to make it clear that religious organizations that do not support same-sex marriage will not lose their tax-exempt status. A provision declaring marriage to be between two people was also added to appease Republicans who expressed concern that it would encourage polygamy. When the Senate voted 62-37 to bring the bill up for debate earlier this month, it signaled that it had cleared enough GOP support to avoid a filibuster.
Conservative lawmakers and organizations have argued that the legislation could expose nonprofits and religiously-affiliated organizations to lawsuits and threaten tax benefits. However, the bill clearly states that the legislation only applies to “those who act under the color of state law,” legal terminology is commonly used to refer to government officials.
The legislation will not require states to formally legalize same-sex marriage, but currently all 50 states are required to allow same-sex marriage under the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. However, 35 states still have laws on the books outlawing same-sex marriage, and they could be reinstated if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Democrats, in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. After overturning the Wade case, he forced Congress to openly protect same-sex marriage. Concerns that other decisions, such as Obergefell, could be threatened. Judge Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority’s opinion that overturned Roe, said the court’s decision did not affect Obergefell, but Judge Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion arguing that the high court should consider overturning same-sex marriage protections.
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