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Lee votes no, Romney votes yes on marriage equality

Proponents of gay marriage rally outside state House chambers at the Hawaii Capitol in Honolulu on Nov. 8.
Oskar Garcia
/
AP
Proponents of gay marriage rally outside state House chambers at the Hawaii Capitol in Honolulu on Nov. 8.

Twelve Republicans joined Senate Democrats to advance the Respect for Marriage Act.

Legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages has crossed a major Senate hurdle, putting Congress on track to take the historic step of ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that 12 Republicans voted with all Democrats to move forward on the legislation, meaning a final vote could come as soon as this week, or later this month.
Among the Republicans supporting the act was Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

Romney issued a statement afterward saying the legislation "provides certainty to LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress - and I - esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally."

His counterpart, Sen. Mike Lee, voted against the measure and issued a statement afterward saying he opposed it because its religious liberty exemptions weren't robust enough, which could subject religious Americans to "potentially ruinous litigation."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bill ensuring the unions are legally recognized under the law is chance for the Senate to “live up to its highest ideals” and protect marriage equality for all people.

The House passed the act over the summer, but it had stalled in the Senate.

Senate Democrats are quickly moving to pass the bill while the party still controls the House.