NewsNational Politics


Here's why a historic vote on same-sex marriage is expected in Congress soon

Senate could take up bill to codify gay marriage later this week
Congress Marriage Rights
Posted at 3:00 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 07:27:15-04

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate could take up a historic bill to codify same-sex marriage soon.

Some in Congress believe the country needs a national law guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage, and a vote could happen in the Senate as early as this week.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who leads Democrats in the Senate, has promised a vote soon.

History of gay marriage

After centuries of laws banning the practice, the last two decades have seen gay rights expand greatly across the United States.

In 2004, San Francisco started issuing marriage licenses in the city. That same year, Massachusetts became the first state to offer them. In 2012, President Barack Obama became the first president to endorse gay marriage. In 2015, the Supreme Court made it a constitutional right and the law across the United States.

Since then, thousands of Americans have celebrated their love in ceremonies around the country.

Recent abortion ruling

However, the recent abortion ruling at the Supreme Court has some on Capitol Hill wondering if gay rights could be the next to change.

The reasoning is based on one sentence by Justice Clarence Thomas on page 119 of the opinion document.

In Thomas' concurring opinion, he wrote, " [...] we should reconsider all of this court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell." Obergefell is the landmark case that legalized gay marriage.

Thomas' issue appears to be the same one he had with abortion, believing state lawmakers should decide who can marry, not lawyers in a courtroom.

Uncertainty across states

If, for some reason, gay marriage would ever be overturned by the high court, it could mean uncertainty across the country, similar to abortion rights.

Poynter, a nonprofit committed to investigative journalism, reports gay marriage would be illegal in 25 to 32 states if the Supreme Court overturned Obergefell.

Senate to take action

The Senate could move as early as this week to protect gay marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government to recognize any marriage if it was valid in the state where it was performed. =It would also repeal the federal law that gave states the authority not to recognize same-sex marriages.

The bill already passed the House of Representatives this summer, with 47 Republicans joining every Democrat to pass it.

In the Senate, 60 votes will be needed. Currently, at least three Republican senators, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, have signaled support, telling reporters they are close to getting 10 Republicans to join 50 Democrats.

But don't expect unanimous approval. Some conservatives clarified this issue to the states and that Democratic leaders are simply trying to create an unnecessary political debate weeks before an election.