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Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, said Wednesday that it intends to put it to a vote bill to codify same-sex marriage into federal law “over the next few weeks” and hopes he will have enough Republican support to pass it. The measure is Respect for Marriage Act.
Schumer also said he would prefer to introduce it as a separate piece of legislation rather than attached to a must-pass government funding bill, according to CNN.
“Let me be clear, there will be a vote: There will be a vote on marriage equality in the Senate in the next few weeks, and I hope there are 10 Republicans who will support it,” Schumer said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
The Senate returned to Washington after its August recess this week, and Democrats, who control the chamber, must decide how and when to vote on several key issues ahead of the upcoming midterm elections in November, where control of Congress is at stake.
The main piece of legislation to be passed on the to-do list is bill to extend state funding beyond the September 30 deadline and preventing the shutdown, but Democrats are also pushing for a vote on same-sex marriage.
There were questions about whether the same-sex marriage bill could be attached to the government’s funding measure, but prominent supporters of the bill rejected it, arguing it should be held as a separate vote.
Support for a Senate vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage is growing after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
The impetus behind the Respect for Marriage Act is concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s abortion rights decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to reverse its rulings establishing a basic constitutional right to use contraception, the right of same-sex couples to marry, and the right to engage in intimate sexual relations with other consenting adults.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a bill enshrining same-sex marriage protections into federal law in July, amid concerns among Democrats that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority could turn to same-sex marriage in the future.
Democrats could use the issue to force vulnerable Republicans to vote yes with a view to re-election in November, but it remains unclear whether he will ultimately muster the necessary support to pass the legislation.
At least 10 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats to overcome a filibuster and pass legislation.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, told CNN they were “very close” to including 10 Republicans.
A bipartisan group of negotiators working to get at least 60 votes in favor of the bill in the Senate is considering adding language to the bill to address the concerns of its critics.
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