The 62-37 vote underscored how a once politically divisive issue now draws bipartisan support despite opposition from some social conservatives, less than a decade after same-sex marriage became legal nationwide under a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.
Historically, many in the GOP have opposed same-sex marriage, and the vote was seen as a test of how much lawmakers’ stances have shifted in recent years amid growing public support.
“While I believe in traditional marriage,” said Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), “this legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress—and I—esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”
The legislation would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. The act passed the Senate in 1996 by an 85-14 margin and was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Court rulings later invalidated it.
“While it’s true that this law is not currently enforceable…it still represents Congress’s last word on the subject,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who voted in favor of Wednesday’s measure.
A May poll by Gallup found that 71% of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage—up from 27% in 1996 ,when the organization said it first surveyed Americans on the issue.