The Senate of the United States approved this Tuesday a legislative initiative to protect at the federal level same-sex marriage, which will now return to the House of Representatives for a final vote. The bill went ahead with 61 votes in favor and 36 against.
The legislation encourages the federal government to recognize marriage between two people of the same sex if it is legal in the state where you were married. The same principle applies to interracial weddings.
The text also recognizes religious freedom, avoiding that religious institutions can be compelled like the Churches to celebrate those weddings and that they lose benefits or tax exemptions for not doing so.
It also revokes the Law for the Defense of Marriage approved in 1996, which defines it as “the union between a man and a woman”.
“The history of the United States has been that of a difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality”, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said Tuesday, warning that “the rights of all married couples will never be truly secure without adequate protections by federal law.”
The House of Representatives, with a progressive majority, gave its endorsement to the bill in July with 267 votes in favor and 157 against. In the Senate, the slim Democratic majority needed the support of at least ten Republicans to move it forward.
After approval, the text has to return to the lower house that he must give his approval to the new version that has come out of the Senate, before ending up at the table of the president, Joe Biden, for his signature.
The shadow of the ruling against abortion
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the United States since the Supreme Court declared in June 2015 the laws that prohibited it were unconstitutional in some states.
The mobilization around the defense of these unions gained momentum recently after the Supreme Court, now controlled by a conservative majority, repealed in June the judgment Roe against Wade, that for almost half a century protected access to abortion in the country.
Since then, a large number of activists and progressive politicians have warned of the possibility that the court do the same with other rights, such as weddings between people of the same sex, returning to the states the power to set whether or not they allow it.
Although the bill would not force all states to legalize gay marriage, it would would require them to recognize the one made in another state where it was.