Speed Reads

Strange bedfellows

Same-sex marriage protection bill gets boost from endorsement by Mormon church

The Senate will take a key test vote Wednesday on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would ensure that same-sex marriages would survive a Supreme Court reversal and enshrine interracial marriage in federal law by requiring states to recognize marriages regardless of "sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin." The bill has three Republican sponsors — Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine), and Thom Tillis (N.C.) — but it will need seven more Republicans to vote for it to overcome an expected GOP filibuster attempt. 

The bill's sponsors say they're confident there are at least seven more GOP votes in the Senate, but "most Republicans have stayed quiet on whether they will support it," The Associated Press reports

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it will back the legislation, even though it still believes same-sex relationships violate God's commandments. An amendment underscoring that the bill won't infringe on the religious liberties of individuals or organizations, proposed by its sponsors to attract GOP support, also appears to have assured the conservative-leaning Mormon church. 

"We believe this approach is the way forward," the LDS Church said on its website. "As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding."

Utah's four House members, all of whom are Mormon, indicated their support for the legislation earlier this year. There are three LDS members in the Senate — Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) — but the imprimatur of the Mormon church could also help persuade non-Mormon GOP lawmakers that the Respect for Marriage Act has broad centrist and right-leaning appeal. 

"The Respect for Marriage Act is a needed step to provide millions of loving couples in same-sex and interracial marriages the certainty that they will continue to enjoy the freedoms, rights, and responsibilities afforded to all other marriages," while protecting "Americans' religious liberties and diverse beliefs," Portman, Tillis, Collins, and two Democratic sponsors — Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — said in a joint statement Monday.

If the bill passes Wednesday's test vote, it will likely get final passage in the Senate by the end of November. Sponsors are eager to get it signed before Republicans take control of the House in January.