The Democrat-led House of Representatives in the US on Tuesday voted to pass a bill that would offer federal protection for same-sex marriage amid concerns that the Supreme Court could roll back recognition of such unions. The Respect for Marriage Act got cleared with a vote of 267 to 157, but its chances of passing the Senate is uncertain, according to news agency AFP. Forty-seven Republican lawmakers supported Democrats in voting for the bill, which was received with scattered applause on the House floor at the time of approval.
Democrats occupy 50 seats in the 100-member Senate while 10 Republican votes are required to ensure that the measure gets cleared.
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What’s the Respect for Marriage Act?
The Act is aimed to enforce US states provide recognition to a valid marriage performed in another state for not only same-sex unions but also interracial marriages. The bill primarily repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defined a marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruling had removed part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples. However, the law had remained on the books.
“The bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act will enshrine and protect marriage equality and make sure legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
On June 24, the Supreme Court ruling overturned the 1973 ruling of Roe v Wade case preserving nationwide abortion rights that triggered concerns of conservative justices revisiting other landmark decisions.
Interestingly, same-sex marriage remains a topic of concern for some Republicans and the religious right in the United States even as 71 percent of Americans in a Gallup poll in May supported such relationships.
The intiative to bring Respect for Marriage Act to a vote in the House by the Democrats has forced Republicans to go on the record on the issue ahead of the November midterm elections.
The House plans to vote later this week on the Right to Contraception Act, which would protect access to contraceptives.