Landmark legislation to protect same-sex marriages has passed the US Senate in a significant show of bipartisan co-operation.
The bill, which ensures same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, was approved 61-36 on Tuesday, including support from 12 Republicans.
The bill’s passage is a sign of shifting politics on same-sex marriages and will provide a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalised gay marriage nationwide.
The bill has gained momentum since the Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned the federal right to an abortion – a ruling that included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat.
President Joe Biden praised the bipartisan vote and said he will sign the bill “promptly and proudly” if it is passed by the House of Representatives, which the Republicans won back in the midterm elections earlier this month.
He said the bill will ensure that LGBTQ youth “will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own”.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation was “a long time coming” and part of America’s “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality”.
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The legislation will not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
However it will require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions, if the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision were to be overturned.
Republicans voting for the legislation included: Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman from Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.