The US Senate voted by a bipartisan majority to protect the right to same-sex marriage in federal law. 61 senators voted for the bill.
It is now considered likely that the text for the final signature will end up on US President Joe Biden's desk. The House of Representatives still has to vote on the draft. The project should be accepted there, however, because the Democrats still have a majority in the Congress Chamber. If the law passes this hurdle, it would be a major victory for Biden and his Democrats.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States by a 2015 Supreme Court decision. It declared unconstitutional a 1996 law that established marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. However, concerns arose this year when the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court reversed the Supreme Court's abortion-rights ruling dating back to the 1970s.
One of the judges, arch-conservative lawyer Clarence Thomas, placed the decision on same-sex marriages in a series of judgments that the court must reconsider.
Federal law does not force any US state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages legally contracted elsewhere. It also protects same-sex marriages that already exist if the Supreme Court, which now has a majority of conservative judges, overturns its 2015 ruling. The law is also designed to protect marriages between people of different ethnicities.