The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would provide federal protections for same-sex marriages, amid fears that the Supreme Court could withdraw 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 remain uncertain.
Forty-seven Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting for the bill, which was met with thunderous applause on the House floor when it was passed.
Democrats have 50 seats in the 100-member Senate and would need 10 Republican votes to bring the measure to the floor.
The Respect for Marriage Act would force US states to recognize lawful marriages performed in another state, providing protection not only for same-sex unions but also for interracial marriages.
The Bill repeals the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples in 2013, but the law remained on the books.
“The Bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act will ensure and preserve marriage equality and ensure that legal, same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized,” said Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin.
The Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v Wade, a 1973 ruling that enshrined abortion rights nationwide, leading to speculation that conservative justices might revisit other landmark decisions.
Same-sex marriage remains a high-value target for some Republicans and the religious right in the United States, although 71 percent of Americans in a May Gallup poll said they support such relationships.
By bringing the Respect for Marriage Act to a vote in the House, Democrats forced Republicans to go on record on the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Clarence Thomas, one of the court’s most conservative justices, in his opinion overturning abortion rights, ignited fears that other progressive gains could also be at risk.
Thomas argued that the court should also examine its rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage.
Thomas – whose wife Ginny Thomas has put forward false claims that Donald Trump won the last election – was the only judge of nine sitting on the US Supreme Court to make such arguments.
But Democrats, activists and progressive groups fear their future decisions because of changes in court authority under Trump, who appointed three new conservative judges.
The House plans to vote on the Right to Contraception Act later this week, which would protect access to contraceptives.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)