A measure to protect gay and interracial marriage rights nationwide cleared a major hurdle Wednesday after the Senate defeated a filibuster that may have thrown a wrench in codifying the bill.
Indiana GOP Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun were split in their votes Wednesday.
Senators voted 62 to 37 to vote the Respect for Marriage Act up or down at a later date in the Senate. Supporters of the measure needed 60 votes to overcome the specter of a filibuster that may have prevented it from appearing on the desk of President Joe Biden, who has already promised to sign it into law promptly.
“Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” Biden said in a statement. “Today’s bipartisan vote brings the United States one step closer to protecting that right.”
Twelve Republican senators sided with the Democrats to support the measure Wednesday to defeat the filibuster during a lame Senate duck session. Among them was Indiana’s Todd Young, who won a second term earlier this month.
Mike Braun, Indiana’s GOP senator, who in March had to retract comments suggesting that states should be able to rule on issues like banning interracial marriage, sided with the majority of the Republican lawmakers who voted “no” on Wednesday.
Some opponents of the Respect for Marriage Act have criticized the bill as a Trojan horse that could undermine religious freedoms. In a September episode of his podcast, Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said religious institutions that use a “biblical definition of marriage” would be penalized by a loss of funding.
Supporters of the measure said the bill was designed to protect Americans’ ability to get married in the event other protections are overturned by courts.
“Persons in same-sex marriages and interracial marriages need and deserve the confidence and reassurance that their marriages are and will remain legal,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat who became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, said Wednesday .
Before the vote, lawmakers added provisions to the bill that they said would protect religious institutions, including nonprofit religious organizations and religious social agencies, from civil lawsuits should they refuse to provide support or facilities for same-sex marriages. Another provision would prevent the federal government from recognizing polygamous marriages.
If signed by President Biden, the Respect for Marriage Act will codify same-sex and interracial marriages into federal law and repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which established that marriage is between a man and a woman .
The DOMA Act was later ruled unconstitutional and struck down by the Supreme Court after Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.
Which Republican senators voted in favor of the bill?
Along with Indiana Sen. Young, GOP Sens. Mitt Romey (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Dan Sullivan (Ark), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine), Roy Blunt (Mo .), Thom Tillis (NC), Richard Burr (NC), Shelley Capito (W.Va.), and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) voted to bring the Respect for Marriage Act into the Senate at a later date.
John Tufts is the USA TODAY Network’s Indiana-based night editor. Send him a news tip at [email protected] Mabinty Quarshie and Sarah Elbeshbishi contributed to this report.