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Senate Advances Baldwin-Collins Marriage Equality Bill

Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ remarks from the Senate floor.

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks.  Click HERE to download.


Washington, D.C. – Today, by a vote of 62-37, the Senate voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation led by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to enshrine marriage equality in federal law.  Senators Baldwin and Collins recently introduced an amendment with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to add protections for religious liberties.  Their legislation has been endorsed by a growing number of religious, business, and legal groups.  The Senate now must vote on final passage and send it to the House for consideration before it can be signed into law.


Senator Collins spoke on the Senate floor this afternoon to urge her colleagues to support the bill.


“This bill recognizes the unique and extraordinary importance of marriage on an individual and societal level,” said Senator Collins.  “It would help promote equality, prevent discrimination, and protect the rights of Americans in same-sex and interracial marriages.  It would accomplish these goals while maintaining—and indeed strengthening—important religious liberty and conscience protections.  I am proud to be the lead Republican sponsor of this legislation.”

The Respect for Marriage Act:


  • Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.


  • Confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.


  • Guarantees that this bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax-exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage. For instance, a church, university, or other nonprofit’s eligibility for tax-exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this legislation.


  • Makes clear that the bill does not require or authorize the Federal government to recognize polygamous marriages.


  • Recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection of marriage.


The Respect for Marriage Act is a narrow but important bill that would do two primary things:


  • First, it would require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.


  • Second, the bill would guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin, but the bill would not require a State to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.


A one-pager on the amendment is available HERE and full text is available HERE.