The Senate Tuesday is expected to pass a bill that would enshrine same-sex marriage rights into law, legislation viewed as a long-awaited endorsement of gay unions by the federal government.
The Respect for Marriage Act would guarantee federal recognition of any marriage between two people if the union was valid in the state where they married.
If passed by the Senate, it would move to the House, which approved a similar bill earlier this year with nearly 50 Republicans in support.
The bill was drafted in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer and Justice Clarence Thomas expressed interest in next reconsidering same-sex and interracial marriage rights.
Same-sex vote will be personal for Sen. Chuck Schumer
For Chuck Schumer, today's vote in the Senate to enshrine gay marriage is more than just a legislative victory, it's a personal triumph as well.
The Senate majority leader's youngest daughter, Allison, married her wife in 2018 - a union that once seemed ironclad but that came into this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed precedent on abortion access when it overturned Roe. v. Wade. Other precedents, including the court's 2015 decision recognizing gay marriage, suddenly seemed at risk as well, Schumer said.
"It's a scary but necessary acknowledgement that, despite all the progress we've made, the constitutional right to same-sex marriage is not even a decade old, and exists only by the virtue of a very narrow 5-4 Supreme Court decision," he said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "And we all know the court has changed since that decision. As we have already seen this year, what the court has decided in the past can be easily taken away in the future."
Schumer, sporting the same purple tie he wore at his daughter's wedding, said the first call he'll make once the bill passes will be to Allison, who is expecting a baby this spring.
"I want them to raise their child with all the love and security that every child deserves," he said, choking up. "And the bill we are passing today will ensure their rights won't be trampled upon simply because they're in a same-sex marriage."
- Ledge King
What's happening in Congress this week?: Is a government shutdown coming? Will same-sex marriage pass? Breaking down Congress' big week
Respect for Marriage Act: Religious protections added to bill Monday
The Senate Monday cleared the way for the bill while also providing a layer of religious freedom, setting up final passage of the Respect for Marriage on Tuesday.
The chamber voted 61-35 to defeat a filibuster that would have prevented the bill from moving forward.
If approved, individuals or groups would not be legally required to provide services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if it's against their religious beliefs. It also would not recognize polygamous unions.
- Savannah Kuchar and Ledge King
Senate advances bill Monday: Senate advances same-sex marriage bill that also includes religious freedom protections
What's in the Respect for Marriage Act?
The bill would guarantee federal recognition of any marriage between two individuals if the union was valid in the state where it was performed.
It would also require states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere but not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own law.
Individuals or groups would not be legally required to provide services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if it's against their religious beliefs. It also would not recognize polygamous unions.
- Savannah Kuchar and Ledge King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gay marriage rights: Senate vote expected on Respect for Marriage Act