Same-sex marriage bill passes U.S. Senate over objections of Texas' Ted Cruz and John Cornyn

Constitutional law experts dispute the claim by Texas' two senators that the bill would invite lawsuits against religious groups.

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click to enlarge U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz both voted against codifying marriage equality. - Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz both voted against codifying marriage equality.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas both voted against a bipartisan bill providing federal protection for same-sex and interracial marriages.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which the Senate passed Tuesday on a 61-36 vote, would require states to recognize all legally performed marriages and would scrap the obsolete Defense of Marriage Act, which stipulates that only marriages between a man and a woman qualify for federal benefits.

Twelve of Cornyn's and Cruz's Republican colleagues voted for the legislation, which had the support of all Senate Democrats.

The Democrat-led U.S. House passed a version of the Respect for Marriage Act in a bipartisan vote this summer. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill once the House votes to approve Senate amendments.

Democrats introduced the act as a safeguard against the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court overturning 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage nationwide.

During debate over the measure, Cruz and Cornyn both argued that it infringes on religious liberty, inviting a flood lawsuits against religious groups for their opposition to same-sex marriage.

However, that reading isn't shared by constitutional law experts, who told the Associated Press that nothing in the legislation makes it possible for people to sue religious groups over their stance on marriage.

Indeed, the bill included multiple concessions for religious groups, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a past opponent of same-sex marriage proposals — supported its passage.

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