The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would protect interracial and same-sex couples from discrimination. The legislation now goes to the House.
The Senate voted 60 to 36 to advance the bill, which means a final vote on the legislation could come as early as this week or later. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the bill for protecting marriage equality.
He noted that his daughter is expecting a baby next year, and he said the bill would make the country a better place.
While the Senate is moving toward passing the bill, it's not clear if the House will pass it next year since Republicans are expected to gain control of the House.
The momentum behind the bill has been growing since the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal right to an abortion and Roe v. Wade were unconstitutional. A different ruling by Justice Thomas suggested that the court might also be considering overturning the same-sex marriage ruling.
The legislation would overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented states from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. It would also protect interracial couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would require states to recognize legally married interracial couples regardless of their race, national origin, or sex.
The support for same-sex marriage has been growing steadily over the past couple of years, as the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples have the right to marry. A recent poll revealed that over two-thirds of Americans support same-sex unions.
Despite the growing support for the bill, many Republican members of Congress have expressed their concerns about the legislation. Democrats decided to hold the vote on the bill until after the November elections in order to give some of their undecided members more time to make their decisions.
Supporters of the bill worked with their Republican colleagues to come up with an amendment that would clarify that the legislation does not affect the rights of businesses and private individuals. Another amendment would make it clear that a marriage is only between two people.
Some of the Republican members of the Senate who have expressed their support for the legislation include Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Before the vote, Rob Portman noted that the current federal law does not reflect the will of the American people. He said it's time for the Senate to pass the bill.
The growing number of Republican members of Congress supporting same-sex unions is a sharp contrast from the position taken by many of them a decade ago. During the House's July vote, the legislation passed with the support of 47 Republicans.
Another conservative-based religious group, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also supported the legislation on Tuesday. In a statement, the church noted that it still considers same-sex relationships as a violation of God's commandments. However, it would still support rights for gay couples if they don't affect the religious beliefs of other groups.
One of the first openly gay members of the Senate, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, said the growing number of Republican members of Congress supporting same-sex unions shows that the movement for gay rights has reached a turning point. She noted that the growing acceptance of gay people can be compared to the early days of the LGBT community's movement when people were still not out.
According to Baldwin, the increasing number of people and families who are able to become visible has changed the minds and hearts of people. She noted that the movement for gay rights has reached a historical turning point.
Senator Chuck Schumer noted that passing the Respect for Marriage Act has been a personal matter for him and his staff members. He said that his daughter is expecting a baby in February, and it's important for the Senate to pass the bill.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on NewsMax.