Democrats in the US Senate are preparing to vote on a bill that seeks to protect same-sex and interracial marriage in the United States, rights currently protected by the federal government that some say could be threatened as a result of the annulment of Roe by the Supreme Court. v Wade.
The vote, scheduled for Wednesday, November 16, will serve as a feasibility test for the legislation and comes at a politically advantageous time for Democrats.
with the republicans expected to seize control of the House of Representatives in the new term, passing such legislation will almost certainly face tougher barriers in the near future. Meanwhile, Republican senators may feel less pressure to appeal to segments of the party that still oppose same-sex marriage now that the polls have closed.
At least 10 Republican senators would have to vote in favor of the bill for it to move forward, though it is expected to face several procedural delays before it is sent to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for a vote.
“I strongly believe that passing bipartisan marriage protections would be one of the most significant achievements in what has already been a significantly productive Congress,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who will bring the bill up for an initial vote. in the chamber on Wednesday. .
“It will do a lot of good for so many people who want nothing more than to live their lives without fear of discrimination.”
Both same-sex and interracial marriage have been federally legal in the US. Following the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court ruling and the 1967 Loving v Virginia ruling, respectively.
However, advocates have argued that the conservative-majority US Supreme Court could use reasoning similar to that used to strike down Roe v Wade, a measure that stripped federal protection of abortion rights, to undo the marriage decrees and return the question of their legality to the state. governments
Those concerns were raised by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote in his Roe opinion that Obergefell v Hodges was among several cases that should be reviewed. The cases he listed did not refer to Loving v Virginia.
Still, the legislation pushed by Democrats would not fully legalize same-sex and interracial marriage, nor would it prevent states from banning such marriages if a Supreme Court ruling allowed it. Instead, it would force the federal government to recognize any marriage that was legal in the state in which it was performed.
The effort comes as same-sex marriage has become increasingly accepted in the US, with recent polls showing more than two-thirds of the public support same-sex unions.
A similar bill, which passed the House in July, garnered more support from Republicans than expected, with 47 party members joining all House Democrats.
Most Senate Republicans have remained largely silent on the issue, with only three party members – Susan Collins, Thom Tillis and Rob Portman – saying they would vote in favor of the latest bill.
Proposed amendments to the legislation, negotiated by supporters to appeal to more Republicans, would clarify that it does not affect the rights of individuals or businesses. Another change would make it clear that a marriage is between two people, an effort to stave off some far-right criticism that the legislation could support polygamy.
More open societal attitudes toward gay rights were on display during the midterms, with a record 678 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) candidates, running as both Democrats and Republicans, appearing on the ballot election during the general election. according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
That came amid a spate of state-level legislation that advocates say has focused on the rights of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, in recent years.
However, on Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the latest conservative-leaning group to endorse the legislation.
In a statement, the Utah-based church said its doctrine would continue to view same-sex relationships as against God’s commandments, but would support the rights of same-sex couples as long as they do not infringe on the rights of same-sex couples. of religious groups. believe as they choose.
Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who became the first openly gay member of the US Senate in 2012, said the new acceptance among some conservative groups in the US comes as more LGBTQ individuals and families they have become visible, changing hearts and minds on the subject.
“And slowly the laws have followed,” he said. “Is history”.