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Bipartisan senators revive effort to pass bill codifying same-sex marriage protections

The senators said in a statement they are "confident" they can get the 10 GOP votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
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A bipartisan group of senators released an updated version of a bill Monday to codify federal protections for same-sex marriages that they say they feel confident can get enough Republican support to pass in the Senate.

The leader of the effort, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., fellow Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina were working on an amendment to the bill to entice more Republican votes to overcome a filibuster.

The senators said in a statement Monday that they are “confident that this amendment has helped earn the broad, bipartisan support needed to pass our commonsense legislation into law.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., promised Monday to hold a vote this week on the bill, which the group said has the 10 GOP votes needed to pass, during the lame-duck session after the midterm elections and before the start of the new Congress in January. 

Democrats aim to pass the bill before next year, when Republicans are favored to be back in control of the House.

A vote was delayed before the midterms to give senators more time to review the five-page amendment after some Republicans suggested the vote tally would be higher after Election Day. 

version of the legislation cleared the House in July, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting yes.

The bipartisan group said it developed an amendment to the House-passed bill to confirm that the bill would not require or authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages while guarding religious liberty and conscience protections under federal law and the Constitution.

“The Respect for Marriage Act is a needed step to provide millions of loving couples in same-sex and interracial marriages the certainty that they will continue to enjoy the freedoms, rights, and responsibilities afforded to all other marriages,” the senators said.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who faces brewing discontent over his leadership in the Senate, declined to say whether he would vote for the bill: “I’ll be voting on that bill when the votes are called,” he told reporters Monday.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which was largely invalidated by two Supreme Court rulings. After the high court struck down Roe v. Wade in June, advocates warned that the same-sex marriage rulings could also be in jeopardy.

The bill would require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two people if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. It would also guarantee that valid marriages between two people are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sexes, races, ethnicities or national origins, but it would not require a state to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.