Amid the far-right attack on human rights and freedoms, the US Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to protect same sex and interracial marriage as the senators from both sides of the aisles joined hands amid a polarised society and politics.

The “Respect for Marriage Act” was approved by a majority of 61 to 36 after the Democrats and 12 Republicans backed the legislation.

Now, it moves to the House of Representatives for approval before sending it to President Joe Biden’s signature. The House is expected to pass the bill possibly as soon as next week.

Democrats have worked with urgency to get the bill passed while they still control Congress. They held on to the Senate in this month’s mid-term elections but lost the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

Although the bill would not set a national requirement for all states to legalise same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognise another state’s legal marriage.

In his reaction, Biden tweeted that the move proved that the nation was “on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love”.

Separately, he said in a statement that the legislation would safeguard the rights of millions of people.

“For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled.” Biden said while describing it a “bipartisan achievement”.

The legislation means that in the event the Supreme Court might overturn its 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision that legalised same-sex marriage, a state could still pass a law to ban it, but that state would be required to recognise a same-sex marriage from another state.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “For millions and millions of Americans, today is a very good day,” he said. “An important day. A day that’s been a long time coming.”

In a sign of how much support has grown in recent years for same-sex marriage, the bill found backing from GOP senators including those in deeply red states.

Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this month that she voted to advance the Senate’s same-sex marriage bill due to “Article 1, Section 3 of the Wyoming Constitution,” which she read to reporters and includes an anti-discrimination clause. “That’s why we’re called the equality state,” she added.

Utah Sen Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the “bill made sense” and “provides important religious liberty protections.”

“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied,” Romney said in a statement. “This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress – and I – esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”


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