Biden welcomed start of Senate debate on marriage equality bill
President Joe Biden welcomed the first Senate vote Wednesday on the “Respect for Marriage” bill recognizing the legality of same-sex marriage at the federal level. The president said the vote “sent a strong message that Republicans and Democrats can work together to protect the basic right of Americans to marry the person they love.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure equal respect and protection for LGBTQI+ and interracial couples under federal law, and provide greater certainty for these families following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case,” the president said, referring to the decision to repeal abortion rights, and urged Congress to pass and send the bill to the White House for signature immediately.
The bill received the 60 votes needed to limit debate before a final vote on its passage. It would serve as a legal defense to any future Supreme Court action by requiring the federal government to recognize any marriage that was legal in the state in which it was performed.
It would not prevent states from banning same-sex or interracial marriages if the Supreme Court allows them to do so.
All 50 Democratic senators and 12 Republican senators voted to introduce the bill in the Senate. The House passed a similar bill in July with the support of 47 Republicans and all Democrats in the lower chamber.
The bill will have to go through several more procedures in the Senate before returning to the House for final approval and then to the president for signature.
The President’s Office of Management and Budget welcomed the beginning of the bill’s debate in the Senate.
“This legislation will ensure marriage equality in the United States. The right to marry provides vital legal protection, dignity and full participation in our society. No one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love, and every married couple in the United States deserves the assurance that their marriage will be protected and respected,” the office said in a statement.
There are about 568,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.
“I have heard from my constituents that they are concerned and concerned about the proposal to take away their right to marry the person they love,” said Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian woman elected to the Senate and a leading negotiator for the Respect for Marriage bill.
Speaking before Wednesday’s vote, Republican Senator Tom Tillis, another key negotiator, called the bill “a good compromise based on mutual respect for our fellow Americans.”
The new bill was the result of months of negotiations between Baldwin and Tillis, as well as Democrat Kirsten Sinema and Republican Senators Susan Collins and Rob Portman.