36 Senate Republicans seek to block same-sex and interracial marriage bill weeks after Club Q massacre

Thirty-six Senate Republicans voted against codifying same-sex and interracial marriages just weeks after a shooting at a Colorado Springs gay club killed five. The measure was eventually passed between 61 and 36 and now goes indoors for final passage.

Every Democrat (except Raphael Warnock, who was not present) joined 12 Republicans in voting to expand protections for same-sex and mixed-race couples.

Democrats decided to take action against same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson decision. Judge Clarence Thomas also wrote a concurring opinion, saying the court should conduct a reconsideration USA vs Windsorwhich allowed the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages; Obergefell against Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide; and Lawrence vs. Texassmashed the anti-sodomy laws.

The legislation would require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two people if the marriage was legal in the state in which it was contracted. It would also guarantee that such marriages would be treated with full trust and respect, regardless of the gender, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the people involved.

At the same time, religious objections of conscience would be protected, and nonprofit religious organizations would not be compelled to provide services, goods, or facilities for same-sex marriages. The bill states that no qualifying person or entity can lose their tax-exempt status.

Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — the first two openly LGBTQ+ senators — negotiated the bill with Republican Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio.

“I think it means that this should never be viewed as a partisan issue and that Republicans recognize that America has come this far on this issue,” Ms. Baldwin said The Independent.

Republican Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska all voted in favor of the bill.

But many Republicans have rejected protections for religious liberty, which they say are inadequate.

“This is religious discrimination,” said Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas The Independent.

Conversely, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a former Sunday school teacher, defended the law.

“People who love each other should have the opportunity, under secular law, to make the same agreements that are recognized by the state, regardless of the gender of the participants,” she said The Independent. “What people choose to worship in their own churches is up to them. But what the government is doing is treating all of its citizens with equal dignity.”

Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, a Republican who voted to advance the bill earlier this month, spoke in the Senate about how she was criticized for her support.

“In the interests of our nation today and its survival, we do well to take this step,” she said in a speech. “Don’t accept or invalidate each other’s pious views, just tolerate them.”

Ms. Lummis spoke later The Independent about the difficulties she faced.

“I’ve been agonizing over this bill. And so I ended up talking about how I resolved my inner struggle to get to the point where I did it,” she said. Ms Lummis said she hoped to be able to speak to voters more in the future.

“And I will send you my key observations and I hope it will help you understand why I voted the way I did,” she said.

The bill’s passage comes more than a week after a gunman allegedly opened fire on Club Q, a Colorado Springs gay club, killing five people.

“Well, it’s absolutely heartbreaking what happened, and I think that’s all the more reason why we should stand,” said Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who recently overwhelmingly defeated his Republican opponent The Independent.

The passage of the legislation comes after the House of Representatives has already codified the legislation. But the Senate will likely send its version back for final passage.

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