Washington (Trends Wide) — The United States Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that protects marriage between people of the same sex and between people of different races, called the Respect Marriage Act, in a historic bipartisan vote.
The final vote was 61-36. The bill received support from all members of the Democratic caucus and 12 Republicans, the same ones who supported the bill for a procedural vote earlier this month.
Now, the House of Representatives must pass the legislation before sending it to President Joe Biden for signing. The House is expected to give the bill the green light before the end of the year, possibly as early as next week.
While the bill would not provide a national requirement for all states to legalize same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage.
Therefore, should the Supreme Court overturn its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — who legalized same-sex marriage — a state could enact a law to ban gay marriage, but would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage that took place in another state.
The legislation cleared a key procedural hurdle earlier this month, when the Senate voted 62-37 to break a filibuster.
The bipartisan group, which includes Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio; Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, previously said in a statement that they hoped “to see this legislation go to the floor” of the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer singled out those five senators for their “outstanding and relentless work” on this landmark legislation, during a speech on the floor Tuesday morning.
“For millions and millions of Americans, today is a very good day,” he said. “An important day. A day that has been a long time coming.”
In a sign of how much support for same-sex marriage has grown in recent years, the bill found support among GOP senators, including those from deeply conservative states.
Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told Trends Wide’s Manu Raju earlier this month that she had voted in favor of the same-sex marriage bill because of “Article 1, Section 3, of the Wyoming Constitution,” which he read to reporters and which includes an anti-discrimination clause.
“That’s why they call us the state of equality,” he added.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, for his part, said the bill “makes sense” and “provides important religious liberty protections.”
“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law that LGBTQ individuals have trusted,” Romney said in a statement. “This legislation provides security for many LGBTQ Americans, and signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”
Alex Rogers and Paul LeBlanc, both with Trends Wide, contributed to this report.