Published November 16, 2022WASHINGTON (BP)—The U.S. Senate took the first and an apparently decisive step Wednesday (Nov. 16) toward codifying same-sex marriage into law with the aid of more than one-fifth of Republicans in the chamber.
Senators voted 62-37 to invoke cloture, as the procedural move is known, and thereby bring up for a final vote the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). All 50 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted in favor of the motion, which needed 60 votes to succeed. The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and require federal and state recognition of same-sex marriages considered legal in the jurisdiction where they took place.
The Senate is expected to vote soon to approve passage of the RMA, which will require only a majority and will serve as a watershed, congressional redefinition of the institution of marriage if enacted.
The House of Representatives approved the RMA in July, when 47 GOP members joined all Democrats in a 267-157 vote. The Senate legislation, however, includes amendments to the House-approved bill that primarily attempt to address religious liberty concerns, though critics say they fall short. If senators pass the measure, another vote by the lower chamber would be required before it can go to the White House. President Biden is expected to sign it into law.
If enacted, the RMA would largely serve as the legislative version of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized gay marriage.
Despite amendments regarding religious freedom, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) – as well as other defenders of the biblical view of marriage and conscience rights – has remained opposed to the RMA.