On Tuesday, the Senate voted 61 to 36 in favour of the Respect for Marriage Act. The legislation gained support from a number of Republican senators after it was amended to include provisions protecting religious freedoms.
The vote comes after the US Supreme Court established national protections for same-sex marriage in 2015’s historic Obergefell v Hodges decision. The Senate bill also requires states to recognise valid same-sex marriages that took place in other states, and ensures federal benefits are extended to married same-sex couples.
The Respect for Marriage Act would serve as a stopgap if constitutional rights to same-sex marriage are diminished or struck down by the Supreme Court in the future. Should that occur, the issue of marriage could potentially revert back to the states, many of which still have same-sex marriage bans or restrictions on the books.