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Senate steps forward on same-sex marriage | Editorial

Tampa Bay Times 11/30/2022 Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board, Tampa Bay Times

The nation took another step Tuesday toward fulfilling its ideal of equality, as the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages. The vote was a long time coming, and it reflected public support for gay marriage across partisan lines. It’s only a shame that Florida’s two senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, could not side with the voices of dignity, self-worth and progress.

The bill, which would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law, was approved 61-36, with support from 12 Republicans. The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry, but would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed. While the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage in 2015, the bill gained momentum over the summer, after the Supreme Court in June overturned the federal right to an abortion, a case in which Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion questioning the court’s previous ruling on same-sex marriage.

The vote is an historic snapshot of America’s evolving attitudes on equality. More practically, it should provide some relief to the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since 2015, established themselves and their families and deserve the certainty to carry on their lives.

Most Republicans in the Senate opposed the legislation, with Rubio, Scott and others claiming the measure fails to protect religious liberty. But the bill clarifies that it does not affect the rights of private individuals or businesses currently provided by law. It also expressly protects religious groups from any civil claim or cause of action for refusing to provide goods or services “for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.”

Senate passage brought the promise of America closer to the American experience, and the House, which is expected to take a final vote as soon as next week, should promptly pass and send the legislation to the president’s desk.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

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