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Who are the 12 Republican Senators who voted for the Respect for Marriage Act?

The new legislation would provide federal protection for same-sex marriage, which was previously secured only on account of a Supreme Court ruling.

Which Republicans supported the Respect for Marriage Act?

The Senate has approved a historic bill that will secure the federal right to same-sex marriage if it is passed by the House. The bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, reached the 60-vote threshold needed to pass in the Upper Chamber, doing so with the support for 12 Republican members.

The Senate Republicans who voted in favour of the Respect for Marriage Act were Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Todd Young (Ind.).

The chamber returned a 61-36 vote in favour of passing the legislation and the bill will now return to the House, where an earlier iteration has previously been approved.

Sen. Collins, one of three GOP members who served as lead negotiators on the bill, described it as “a historic step”, adding: “Our bill would help ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”

How will this change same-sex marriage in the US?

The legislation approved by the Senate does not offer any significant changes to same-sex marriage rights, but rather secures those rights in law. The most recent protections for marriage equality stem from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

The Respect for Marriage Act does not require all states to allow same-sex marriage, but does require that they respect unions formed in states where it is allowed.

The version that passed on Tuesday did include some additional elements that were added to ensure that at least 10 Republicans joined to vote with the Democrats. Central to those changes were exceptions for non-profit and religious organisations, who will not have to provide support for same-sex marriages.

Why is this happening now?

The recent push for a federal right to same-sex marriage comes after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v Wade. For nearly 50 years the constitutional right to an abortion was secured by the 1973 ruling but that protection was suddenly revoked this summer.

The right to same-sex marriage - like the right to abortion, contraception, interracial marriage - was provided by a Supreme Court decision. Given the 6-3 conservative split of the Court and their willingness to overturn historic precedent, there hass been a concern that the right to same-sex marriage could be the next to go.

In fact, Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion on the Roe v Wade ruling explicitly outlined areas where the Court may reconsider established precedent.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote.

Those three crucial precedents are the basis for the right to use contraception (Griswold); the right to same-sex marriage (Obergefell); and a ban on states outlawing sodomy (Lawrence). We could see a concerted effort in Congress to secure all three of these freedoms in the coming years, out of a fear that the Supreme Court may overturn earlier rulings.


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