The U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies protections for same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law, 61-36, Tuesday. Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper voted for the bill.
Bennet took to the Senate floor prior to the vote to urge support for “a historic piece of legislation.”
“There may be no right closer to the heart than marrying the one that you love. And Colorado understands that,” he said.
The bill would require states to recognize same-sex or interracial marriages performed anywhere outside their borders, but not require them to allow same-sex couples to marry, which is what the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteed. The bill would also officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
Hickenlooper said it was a “happy day” and this move was “long overdue.” Still, he also acknowledged the political realities of needing to compromise to get at least 10 Republicans to get to 60 to pass the bill in the chamber.
“This was something we could get done now, with a bipartisan majority. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a different solution down the road. But, for right now, this is a pretty good victory,” he said.
The Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act includes religious liberty and conscience protections under the Constitution and federal law. It would also confirm that non-profit religious groups will not be required to provide goods or services for same-sex marriages and ensure the government does not recognize polygamous marriages. The amended bill means it will have to go back to the House for a vote before heading to the president’s desk.
The push to protect same-sex marriage was spurred by this summer’s Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade; Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion said the court should revisit and overturn other landmark rulings regarding contreception and same-sex marriage.
The House passed a version of the bill in July, with 47 Republicans in favor. The Colorado delegation split along party lines, with Democratic Reps. Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter voting for the bill, and Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn voting against it.
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