Retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R - Missouri) was one of 12 Republicans Wednesday who voted in favor of the Respect of Marriage act.
Wednesday's vote was needed to bypass a filibuster. All 50 senators who organize as Democrats also voted for the bill.
Blunt was the only senator from Missouri and Kansas in support of the legislation. Sens. Jerry Moran (R - Kansas), Roger Marshall (R - Kansas) and Josh Hawley (R - Missouri) all voted against the motion.
“This bill is now designed to accomplish two things. People who are legally married in one state have the same protections and responsibilities in any other state that are offered to and required of marriages," Blunt said in a release earlier Wednesday afternon. "And, this legislation enhances the religious freedom for all Americans by protecting religious organizations from retaliation by federal agencies due to their views on marriage. I believe it’s better for Congress to clarify these issues than for federal judges to make these decisions.”
The bill will be debated before a final vote is taken. If the Senate passes the bill, which is now expected, it will have to go to the House for a vote before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
The senators who crafted the bill said they used "commonsense language to confirm that this legislation fully respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties and diverse beliefs, while leaving intact the core mission of the legislation to protect marriage equality."
Congress has been moving to protect same-sex marriage as support from the general public — and from Republicans in particular — has sharply grown in recent years, as the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Recent polling has found more than two-thirds of the public supports same-sex unions.
The legislation would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed.
The new Respect for Marriage Act would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin."