Same-sex marriage protection bill clears initial hurdle in U.S. Senate

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The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to advance a bill protecting federal recognition of same-sex marriage, prompted by concerns that a more conservative Supreme Court could reverse a 2015 decision that made it legal nationwide.

The bill garnered the 60 votes required to limit debate before a final vote on its passage. It would serve as a legal backstop against any future Supreme Court action by requiring the federal government to recognize any marriage that was legal in the state it was performed.

All 50 Democrats and 12 Republican senators voted to advance the bill in the 100-member Senate. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in July, with the support of 47 Republicans and all of the chamber’s Democrats.

The bill will have to jump through several more Senate procedural hoops before returning to the House for final approval and then to the president for his signature.

When the Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion in June, Justice Clarence Thomas caused alarm by writing in his concurring opinion that the court should consider overturning other precedents protecting individual freedoms including the 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage.

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