WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – A bill to protect same-sex and inter-racial marriages is one step closer to passage after hitting some bumps in the road amid concerns about religious protections.
The bill cleared one hurdle on Monday but faces more votes on Tuesday.
In early November, senators reached a bipartisan agreement they thought would protect both same-sex marriage and religious institutions, but now some lawmakers worry those religious protections don’t go far enough.
Oregon senator Ron Wyden has long been a champion for protecting the rights of same-sex couples and is now urging the Senate to pass the Respect for Marriages Act.
“If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said. “I’m always going to go to the mat to defend the right to privacy in America.”
The senator added, “our country is indisputably stronger when everyone’s rights are protected.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate is expected to vote on the bill which would protect same-sex and inter-racial marriages in the United States.
However, Texas Republican senator John Cornyn says the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary because a Supreme Court decision already protects the rights of same-sex couples.
“To be clear, that is already the law of the land,” Sen. Cornyn said.
But Democrats say Congress should learn from the Supreme Court, which overturned federal abortion protections.
Wyden argues “the Senate cannot take any modern legal precedent for granted.”
Republicans also worry that the Respect for Marriage Act will impact religious liberty and religious institutions.
Cornyn explained, “this legislation expressly empowers private litigants to sue religious institutions, faith-based organizations and private parties who oppose, for sincerely held religious beliefs, same-sex marriage.”
The Senate is expected to hold a series of votes Tuesday afternoon to add more religious protections to the legislation and the expectation is that the Respect for Marriage Act will pass in the Senate later in the day.