The legal protection of homosexual marriage advances in Congress before it is renewed with the legislators elected on November 8.
As expected, the Senate has approved this Tuesday the law that aims to shield the civil union between homosexuals as a right in the face of the risk that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court decides to reverse its doctrine, which until now recognizes it as a constitutional right .
The law has been approved in the Senate with 61 votes in favor and 36 against, with the support, therefore, of the Republican senators.
This bipartisan backing reflects the broad social support for same-sex marriage and allowed the law two weeks ago to pass the 60-vote threshold needed to put an initiative to a vote, thus preventing the blockade due to filibustering.
After approval by the Senate, the law must go to the House of Representatives, which has a Democratic majority until the new Congress is constituted, in early 2023. The Democrats plan is to submit it to a vote there as soon as the president , Joe Biden, can sign it to take effect.
The new norm does not establish homosexual marriage as a federal right applicable throughout the country, but it does prevent a marriage from being discriminated against because the two members of the couple are of the same sex.
Thus, in the event that the Supreme Court were to revoke its doctrine, the States could prevent homosexual couples from marrying in their territory, but they could not discriminate against those who legally marry in another State.
It is not a complete shield, but it is the compromise solution reached, along with other concessions, to obtain the support of enough Republican senators.
Today, same-sex marriage is legal throughout the country since the Supreme Court, then with a progressive majority, handed down the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in 2015 and declared that all States have the obligation to allow same-sex couples to have this civil union. under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Before that ruling, it was already legal in 37 states and the capital, Washington.
Previously, the Supreme Court had declared the Law for the Defense of Marriage, approved in 1996, unconstitutional, which only recognized the union between a man and a woman and denied federal rights and benefits to same-sex marriages.
The problem is that if the Supreme Court decided to reverse its precedents, that restrictive law would be in force again, cutting the rights of same-sex couples throughout the country.
The new Respect for Marriage Law repeals the 1996 norm and expressly recognizes federal rights for homosexual and interracial marriages.
There are about 600,000 same-sex married couples in the United States, though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, has said the rule will strengthen the rights "of tens of millions of Americans."
Schumer, who wore a purple tie, was emotional during the session when he said that his daughter, a lesbian and expecting a child with his wife, was afraid of losing her rights.
The risk that the Supreme Court would change its criteria was revealed in a private vote in the ruling on abortion last June.
Judge Clarence Thomas, of the conservative majority, invited to review other precedents, including the one that legalized homosexual marriage throughout the country and the one that facilitated access to contraceptives.
As a result, the Democrats proposed in Congress to shield marriage between people of the same sex and between people of different races.
The Democrats presented bills in the summer with little confidence that they would go ahead and more as a way to force the Republicans to portray themselves before the voters before the legislative elections on November 8.
But Republican senators were open to supporting the law if it was left until after the election.
The House of Representatives already voted on a similar law in the summer with the support of 47 Republican deputies, but since it is not identical, it must now vote on the law that comes from the Senate so that it can enter into force.
It is expected to do so next week.
The precautions that the law has introduced and that have allowed the support of the Republicans, and even the Mormon Church, consist of an express recognition of religious freedom that prevents churches from being able to force them to celebrate and recognize these marriages. homosexuals and that shields them from losing tax exemptions and benefits for not doing so.
It has also been made clear that the recognition does not extend to polygamous marriages.
However, the debate and the vote have shown the division in the Republican ranks around the law.
Twelve have voted in favor, two have absented (like the Democrat Raphael Warnock, campaigning in Georgia for the second round of the elections) and 36 have voted against.
Some conservative senators still reject the figure of gay marriage and others have argued that the hypothetical intention of the Supreme Court to revoke it is "a fantasy", as Mike Lee, a Mormon senator from Utah, has said.
The other senator from Utah, Mitt Rommey, also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days, is among those who have voted in favor.
United States President Joe Biden celebrated the vote with a statement: “America is about to reaffirm a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.
For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled.
It will also ensure that, for generations to come, LGBTQI+ youth grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full and happy lives and start families of their own,” he stated.
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