WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would protect federal recognition of same-sex marriages, a measure taken in response to concerns that the Supreme Court could overturn a 2015 ruling , which legalized it nationwide.
The narrowly tailored bill, which would require the federal government to recognize a marriage if it was legal in the state where it was entered into, is intended as a backstop should the Supreme Court act against same-sex marriage.
It would not prevent states from blocking same-sex or interracial marriages if the Supreme Court allowed them to do so.
“Today, the long but relentless march toward greater equality moves forward,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
“By passing this bill, the Senate is sending a message every American needs to hear: no matter who you are or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law.”
The bill passed 61 to 36, with 60 votes needed to pass. Twelve Republicans joined 49 Democrats in supporting the bill. One Democrat, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, was absent, as were two Republican senators.
A similar, but not identical, bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year with the support of 47 Republicans and all Democrats. The House must approve the Senate version before it is sent to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that the House would likely take up the Senate version of the bill next week.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion, overturning 50 years of precedent.
In a joint opinion, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should consider overturning other rulings that protect individual liberties, including the 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage.
About 568,000 married same-sex couples live in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau.
Reporting by Moira Warburton Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang
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