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Senate poised to vote on same-sex marriage bill as Romney signals support

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters during votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters during votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Update, Nov. 16, 2022 @ 2:43 p.m.: The Respect for Marriage Act has cleared its first procedural vote in the Senate, 62-37. Sen. Mitt Romney joined 11 other Republicans in the vote to overcome a filibuster. According to the Associated Press, a final vote could come as soon as this week, or later this month. Our original story continues below.

The Senate is expected to soon take an initial vote on the Respect for Marriage act.

A deal to amend the legislation that would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and require states to acknowledge same-sex and interracial marriages was announced on Nov. 14 by a bipartisan group led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Democrats in Congress organized to codify marriage equality into law following the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. A concurring opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas signaled that the nation’s highest court should reconsider other cases like Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

The bill passed in the House of Representatives this summer with bipartisan support. That included all four of Utah’s representatives: Republicans Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens and Blake Moore.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney previously called the House bill “unnecessary” and has voiced a desire to protect religious institutions in the legislation. On Tuesday, he said he would support the bill if those protections are included.

“I don’t know that marriage should be a partisan issue,” he told KUER's Washington D.C. partner Matt Laslo. “But I do believe that the protections afforded [to] religious institutions are important and if they’re included in the final bill, I intend to support it.”

According to the bipartisan statement, an amendment to the bill will include “all religious liberty and conscience protections” found in the Constitution and federal law.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment by the time this story was published.

Lee has been reported to be working on an amendment that would add protections to religious liberties.

After the announcement of the bipartisan deal, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement affirming that its stance opposing same-sex marriage has not changed, but that protecting religious freedom while respecting LGBTQ+ rights is “the way forward.”

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Utah said the organization is “heartened” by the church’s stance.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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