The Senate is expected to hold a key vote Wednesday on a bill to codify federal protections for same-sex marriage, days after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed to proceed on an updated version of the bill released by a bipartisan group of senators.
The group, led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., expressed confidence this week that the bill has the 10 GOP votes needed to pass in the upper chamber during the lame-duck session. Wednesday’s vote is on whether to proceed to the bill, which would set the measure up for possible passage later.
Democrats are aiming to pass the legislation before the start of the new Congress in January, when Republicans are expected to take back control of the House by a narrow margin. NBC News has not yet called which party will control the chamber, with the results of several races still outstanding.
Key senators involved in the negotiations previously delayed a vote on the legislation until after the midterm elections to give Republicans more time to review an amendment aimed at attracting more Republican votes to overcome a filibuster.
In a statement, the bipartisan group said it crafted an amendment to a House-passed bill 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 House passed a version of the bill in July, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the legislation. The lower chamber passed the bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, after Democratic leaders expressed concern that the Supreme Court could follow its June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade with a ruling rescinding the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The legislation would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, enshrine legal same-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law, and add legal protections for married couples of the same sex.
Same-sex marriage remains the law of the land under the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. But Democrats cited Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe in which he called on the now-more-conservative court to reverse the ruling as well as another landmark decision legalizing contraception.
Frank Thorp V contributed.