Idaho Senators vote against advance of same-sex marriage bill

Both Idaho U.S. Senators on Wednesday voted against a procedural move to advance legislation repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

This law, in effect since 1996, defines marriage as between “a man and a woman” and allows states to recognize or disallow same-sex marriages as they see fit.

The U.S. Supreme Court nullified enforcement of this law in a 2015 case. The 5-4 majority, led by now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, found the 14thth The amendment guarantees a person’s right to marry as a fundamental freedom, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In doing so, the decision granted same-sex couples legal rights that heterosexual couples had enjoyed for decades, including the ability to control a partner’s health care decisions and file joint tax returns.

But a new, more conservative Supreme Court last summer upheld its longstanding legal precedent in Roe v. Wade and left abortion rights to individual states.

In a unanimous opinion, Judge Clarence Thomas revisited that 2015 decision, as well as two others that allowed access to contraception and one that struck down anti-sodomy laws.

“Given this landscape, it’s not unreasonable for same-sex and multiracial couples to fear that the protections of their marriages are at serious risk,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), one of the bill’s main sponsors.

A bipartisan group of senators passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year passed an amendment to the bill to protect religious groups from having to enter into same-sex marriages.

“No church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or religious educational institution would need to worry that their tax-exempt status would be compromised in any way,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The procedural vote to essentially avoid a filibuster passed 62-37, with 12 Republicans supporting it.

Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch opposed the measure, saying it should be a state policy decision.

“The federal government has nothing to do with directing our views on this matter,” Risch said in a statement, noting that the bill provides no exemptions for individuals, schools, and adoption agencies.

“I remain concerned that this legislation will undermine our constitution’s individual and religious liberties because it fails to provide protections for those whose beliefs and practices differ from those prescribed in this proposed legislation,” Crapo said in a statement.

The US Senate has yet to give final approval to the bill before it returns to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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