A bill that makes protection for same-sex and interracial marriages federal law passed the Senate in a 61-36 vote Tuesday and will now head to the House for a final vote. A dozen Republicans voted in favor, the same number that joined Democrats for a filibuster-proof majority in vote to advance the Respect for Marriage Act earlier this month. The bill repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which had already been declared unconstitutional by the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the New York Times reports. It doesn't require states to allow same-sex couples to marry, but requires them to recognize marriages that are valid elsewhere, regardless of sex or race.
In an amendment added to secure Republican votes, the bill states that religious organizations will not be required to provide "any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage." In another move to ensure there were enough GOP votes in favor, the final Senate vote was delayed until after the midterm elections, the Washington Post reports. President Biden praised the bipartisan vote and said he will sign the bill "promptly and proudly" if it passes the final vote in the House, reports the AP. It passed the House with 47 Republicans voting with Democrats in July, the month after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that after the overturning of Roe v Wade, rulings on marriage equality should also be reexamined.
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator, was part of the bipartisan group that worked to move the bill forward. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a "great day" after the bill passed and there was applause on the Senate floor, ABC reports. The Times reports that Schumer choked back tears as he talked about his daughter, who is expecting a child with her wife—and had been worried that their right to marry could be undone. "I want them to raise their child with all the love and security that every child deserves," Schumer said. "The bill we are passing today will ensure their rights won’t be trampled upon simply because they are in a same-sex marriage." (Read more same-sex marriage stories.)