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Senate advances bill to protect same-sex marriage

The United States Senate, on Wednesday, cleared the 60-vote threshold it needed to advance a bill that would protect same-sex and interracial marriages nationwide.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in July with the support of 47 Republicans, advanced with the support of 12 Republican senators and all Democratic senators.

A final vote is expected by the end of November, according to the Associated Press.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 with the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The bill would enshrine the court’s decision into federal law and repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and allowed states to not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. It also denied same-sex couples the same federal benefits and privileges as heterosexual married couples.

The new bill would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal when they were performed and recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Among the Republican senators supporting the bill is Utah Senator, Mitt Romney, who is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Tuesday, the Church released a statement stating that its doctrine related to marriage remains unchanged but that it is grateful for the continuing efforts to ensure the legislation “includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”

Despite added language to the bill that protects non-profit religious organizations from having to provide services and privileges for marriages, many conservatives argue that the bill does not do enough to protect the religious freedom of individuals and can cost individuals and organizations years in litigation.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, voted against the bill.

In a statement on Twitter, he called the religious freedom protections “anemic.” He proposed an amendment that would have added further protections for charities, educational institutions and non-profits but said it was not taken up.

According to the Associated Press, in response to the bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “It will make our country a better, fairer place to live.”

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