WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – That Senate bill to codify same-sex marriage appears headed for a final vote later today.
The Senate was scheduled to reconvene at about 3:45 to consider three amendments to the bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, which has had bipartisan support including by both Republican senators representing North Carolina. The final vote would follow the consideration of the amendments.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is one of five senators who hammered out an amendment to address the religious rights of groups who may be considered about the marriage of same-sex couples. That bill avoided filibuster when that amendment was approved by a 62-37 vote before Thanksgiving.
A version of the bill passed the House with bipartisan support in July, largely because of fear generated by the opinion of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
The bill “affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection of marriage.” It does not legalize polygamy.
Although Tillis indicated initial support and he and retiring Sen. Richard Burr were among the 12 Republicans to vote for the bill, Tillis said he found he could not support the House version because of some of the technical language.
So earlier this month he and fellow senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) announced an amendment to the bill that would clarify the rights of religious groups, including:
- Require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.
- Guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity or national origin, but the bill would not require a state to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech that the bill is “a simple, narrowly tailored but exceedingly important piece of legislation that will do so much good for so many Americans. It will make our country a better, fairer place to live.”
The amendments are by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma). Only Lee’s amendment requires 60 votes to pass.
The amendment that Tillis and his colleagues developed would protect religious liberty under the Constitution and would not require nonprofit religious organizations to perform marriages for people who don’t meet their standards, the group’s release said. It also specifies that this bill can’t be used to deny rights and would not affect a church or religious group’s nonprofit status.
When the bill passed the House, the Republicans who represent North Carolina were not among its 47 GOP supporters. That includes the five Republicans who represent – or will represent – the 14 counties of the Piedmont Triad: 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), 8th District Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County) and 10th District Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Statesville).
Only Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), elected to represent the 8th Congressional District that includes Davidson and Montgomery counties, addressed that vote, calling the bill “an attack on Americans who hold the view that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
13th District Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), who was elected to join Tillis in the Senate as the successor for Burr, voted against the bill, too. He has not commented on it.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who was re-elected to represent the 6th District, which includes Guilford Rockingham counties and some of Caswell and Forsyth counties, and who supported the bill in the House, released a statement on Tuesday about the news of Tillis’ amendment.
“The right to marry the person you love, established by the Supreme Court and supported by people across this country, should not be threatened on the whim of a new Supreme Court,” Manning said in a note delivered by her spokesperson to WGHP. “We must codify marriage equality immediately, and I applaud my Senate colleagues for their leadership and urge Congress to get this done swiftly.”