The Senate is set to vote this week on a bill to codify the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage protections after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a deal earlier Monday, signaling they believe they have the votes to get past a filibuster and move the measure to President Biden’s desk.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on the legislation on Monday, teeing up the first vote on the measure for Wednesday.
The New York Democrat’s move indicates that the updated bill has the support of 10 Senate Republicans needed. The new deal updates language from before the election, and includes provisions to assuage GOP members on religious liberty related issues.
“Because my top priority is to get things done in a bipartisan way whenever we can, we determined that this legislation was too important to risk failure, so we waited to give bipartisanship a chance,” Schumer said in a statement. “I hope for the sake of tens of millions of Americans that at least 10 Republicans will vote with us to protect marriage equality into law soon. The rights and dignity of millions of Americans depend on it.”
A group of five senators — Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — released the updated legislation, which protects nonprofit religious organizations from providing services in support of same-sex marriage.
It also would protect religious liberty and conscience protections under the Constitution and federal law.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told The Hill that provided the religious freedom amendment is part of the final bill, he will support it. That would make four Senate Republicans who publicly back the effort.
“I’d like to get onto the bill,” Romney said, calling the amendment a “positive step.” “If that amendment is attached to the bill, I’ll vote for it.”
Prior to the October recess, Schumer and Baldwin punted a vote on the bill until after the midterms due to the lack of GOP willingness to back it at the time.
“Through bipartisan collaboration, we’ve crafted commonsense language to confirm that this legislation fully respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties and diverse beliefs, while leaving intact the core mission of the legislation to protect marriage equality,” the five senators backing the new deal said in a statement.
“We look forward to this legislation coming to the floor and are confident that this amendment has helped earn the broad, bipartisan support needed to pass our commonsense legislation into law,” they added.
The updated language would also ensure that the federal government does not recognize polygamous marriage.
If the Senate passes the legislation, the House would have to approve the measure for it to reach Biden’s desk.
The House has already passed similar legislation, but it is not identical to the new deal.
Forty-seven House Republicans initially voted for the proposal in July.
The effort to move forward on the bill picked up steam after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, and Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion said he thought the court’s decision on same sex marriage should be revisited.
“Passing this bill would secure much needed safeguards into federal law. I want to make clear — passing this bill is not a theoretical exercise, but it’s as real as it gets,” Schumer said, referring to Thomas’s opinion indicating that other protections could be on the chopping blocks.
Updated 6:18 p.m.