Similar-sex marriage invoice advances one step nearer to Senate passage

The Senate on Monday introduced a invoice to codify same-sex marriage protections one step nearer to passage, voting to finish debate on an modification that options spiritual liberty protections sought by Republicans.

The method wasn’t with out hiccups, nevertheless.

Senators in the end voted 61-35 to advance the modification to the Respect for Marriage Act that consists of language associated to non secular liberty and conscience protections underneath the Structure and federal regulation. It will additionally continues to ban polygamous marriage.

However the voting was held open for nearly two-and-a-half hours as senators wrangled over whether or not further amendments may come up for a vote and waited on the votes of three Republicans who had earlier this month voted to advance the broader invoice. Sixty votes had been wanted to restrict debate.

In accordance with the time settlement struck, votes on three amendments proposed by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will likely be held on Tuesday afternoon, with a vote on last passage anticipated to happen instantly following. The vote sequence will begin at 3:45 p.m.

Lee’s modification will want 60 votes to be hooked up, whereas Lankford’s and Rubio’s will every want a easy majority of senators to win inclusion on the ultimate invoice. All three are aimed toward defending spiritual liberty amid considerations that an modification negotiated that’s already hooked up to the laws doesn’t go far sufficient to guard spiritual entities. 

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a number one GOP proponent of the Respect for Marriage Act, advised reporters after the deal was struck that whereas he helps Lee’s modification, it’s “much more expansive” than the slim invoice that negotiators cobbled collectively. 

“I believe one of many issues that make it very troublesome for getting individuals to come back to an settlement is simply giving everybody the Heisman as an alternative of listening to them and making an attempt to offer them a chance to get a vote. I’ve obtained no downside with it,” Tillis mentioned. “I want we’d do extra modification votes round right here. It was an earnest effort on our half to allow them to have their amendments be heard and let the vote go the place the vote goes tomorrow.” 

Monday’s vote places lawmakers one other step nearer to sending the invoice to President Biden’s desk. The measure has already handed the Home, however due to the slim modification it must return to the decrease chamber for one more vote. The Home handed the invoice in July with the help of 47 Republicans.

The absence of Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who’s competing in a runoff election on Dec. 6, additionally difficult the trail to 60 votes. Finally, all 12 GOP senators who voted earlier this month to advance the measure voted within the affirmative Monday: Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Todd Younger (Ind.) and Tillis. 

“Everyone knows that for all of the progress that we’ve made on same-sex marriage, the rights of all married {couples} won’t ever actually be secure with out the correct protections underneath federal regulation, and that’s why the Respect for Marriage Act is important,” Senate Majority Chief Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) mentioned on the Senate flooring on Monday.

Some Republicans who supported the measure have obtained blowback for backing the laws. Greater than 40 Christian leaders known as on Lummis to “reverse course” and alter her vote until the ultimate model consists of Lee’s modification.

“[The bill] labels individuals of fine religion as bigots and topics them to limitless harassing litigation and discrimination and threats by that very same authorities that was based to guard their spiritual liberty,” Lee mentioned on the Senate flooring earlier than the Thanksgiving recess. “We have to defend spiritual freedom. This invoice doesn’t try this. It locations it in grave jeopardy.”

Up to date at 8:44 p.m.