The US Senate has passed a landmark bipartisan bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage.
The legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, now goes back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it and send it to President Biden to sign.
Supporters of the bill hope to pass it before Republicans take control of the House in January.
The bill, however, does not set a national requirement that all states must legalise same-sex marriage.
The bill gained traction in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June of this year that overturned the federal right to an abortion. LGBT advocates fear that same-sex marriage could also come under threat in the coming months.
Tuesday’s vote tally was 61 to 36, with 12 Republicans voting in favour.
The legislation gained support from a number of Republican senators after it was amended to include provisions protecting religious freedoms.
The bill aims to shore up same-sex marriage rights in federal law, though such partnerships are still protected nationwide under a prior Supreme Court ruling.
In a statement, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer hailed the decision as an advancement forward in the “long but inexorable march towards greater equality”.
“By passing this bill, the Senate is sending a message that every American needs to hear: no matter who you are or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law.” (BBC)