The US House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday, in response to concerns that the Supreme Court would revoke recognition of same-sex couples, where it offered federal protection for such unions. The Respect for Marriage Act would guarantee protection for both same-sex marriages and inter-racial unions by requiring US states to acknowledge a legitimate marriage celebrated in another state. The bill received support from 47 Republican lawmakers in addition to Democrats, and when it cleared the House, there was sporadic clapping. In the 100-member Senate, Democrats hold 50 members, and 10 Republican votes would be required to move the legislation to the floor, AFP reported.
By a vote of 267 to 157, the Respect for Marriage Act was approved in the Democratic-controlled chamber, but its chances in the Senate are questionable.
The legislation nullifies the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which established the institution of marriage as a union between a man and woman. The act barriers married same-sex couples from receiving government benefits were partially overturned by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2013, but the statute remained in the effect.
However, 71 per cent of Americans stated that they support same-sex marriage in a May Gallup poll, same-sex marriage continues to be a top target for certain Republicans and religious rights in the US.
Democrats forced Republicans to publicly address the Respect for Marriage Act in advance of the November midterm elections by putting it up for a vote in the House.
This week, the Right to Contraception Act, which would safeguard women’s access to contraception, will be put in the House.