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Collins backs bill to protect same-sex marriage, vote delayed until after midterms

Senate leadership agreed to push the vote back at the request of the bipartisan group working to get more Republican support.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A Senate vote on a bill to protect same-sex marriage rights has been put off until after midterm elections. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins, is trying to get enough Republican support for the Respect for Marriage Act.

The bill seeks to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and codify marriage equality for same-sex couples and interracial couples.

Democrats planned to vote on the bill as early as next week, but some Republicans who are likely to back the proposal are up for re-election. 

On Thursday, negotiators asked Senate leadership for more time to garner support. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to wait to take up the legislation at a late date.

Sen. Collins told NEWS CENTER Maine in Washington this week she has been working on changes to the legislation to ensure religious freedoms are protected.

"There is this cloud of uncertainty over the legality of their marriages even though they're clearly married today," Collins said. "By putting a federal law into place we can eliminate that anxiety."

When asked about if recent controversial Supreme Court rulings, like the overturning of Roe v. Wade, contributed to the need to codify same-sex marriage, Collins said they did.

"The fact is that most Americans support marriage equality, so I'm hopeful that we can get this bill through," Collins said.

In a joint statement with senators Tammy Baldwin, D Wisconsin, Rob Portman, R Ohio, Kyrsten Sinema, D Arizona, and Thom Tillis. R North Carolina, Collins promised the bill will get the votes it needs.

“The Respect for Marriage Act is a simple but important step which provides certainty to millions of Americans in loving marriages," the senators said in the statement. "Through bipartisan collaboration, we’ve crafted commonsense language that respects religious liberty and Americans’ diverse beliefs, while upholding our view that marriage embodies the highest ideals of love, devotion, and family."

With the midterms just weeks away, it is still not clear exactly when the bill will be considered. The bill passed the House 267-157 in July, with 47 Republican votes.

"We are confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass the bill," the statement said.


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