US House passes bill to protect same-sex marriage | World News

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would provide federal protections for same-sex marriage, amid fears that the Supreme Court could revoke recognition of such unions.

The Respect for Marriage Act was approved by a vote of 267 to 157 in the Democratic-controlled chamber, but its prospects in the Senate are uncertain.

Forty-seven Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting for the bill, which drew scattered applause on the House floor as it passed.

Democrats hold 50 seats in the 100-member Senate, and 10 Republican votes are needed to bring the measure to the floor.

The Respect for Marriage Act forces US states to recognize a valid marriage performed in another state, which protects not only same-sex unions but also interracial marriages.

The bill repeals the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples in 2013 but the law remains on the books.

“The bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act enshrines and protects marriage equality and ensures that legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

The Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that upheld nationwide abortion rights, sparking predictions that conservative justices may revisit other landmark decisions.

Same-sex marriage remains a high-profile target for some Republicans and the religious right in the United States, although 71 percent of Americans said they support such relationships in a May Gallup poll.

By bringing the Respect for Marriage Act to a vote in the House, Democrats forced Republicans to come up with a record on the issue ahead of the November midterm elections.

Clarence Thomas, one of the court’s most conservative justices, raised fears that other progressive gains may also be at risk in his concurring opinion overturning abortion rights.

Thomas argued that the court should review its rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage.

Thomas — whose wife, Ginny Thomas, has dismissed false claims that Donald Trump won the last election — is the only justice of the nine who sit on America’s highest court to make such arguments.

But the court has shifted to the right under Trump, who has appointed three new conservative justices, and Democrats, activists and progressive groups fear its future rulings.

The House plans to vote later this week on the Contraceptive Rights Act, which would protect access to contraceptives.

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