Forty-seven House Republicans joined every Democrat in backing codification of same-sex marriage, in turn, sending the bill to the Senate. Now in the upper chamber, the bill, which would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, codify interracial marriage and give legislative backing to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, could face an uphill battle to the 60 votes needed for passage.
All 50 Democrats have announced their support for gay marriage with the onus falling squarely on 10 Republican senators to join them and send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has led Republican efforts to codify gay marriage while working closely with the Senates first openly lesbian member, Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, to try and secure the 10 GOP votes. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Ohio’s Rob Portman and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis have also announced their support.
However, even staunch conservatives are getting on board with the bill as Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson has announced his intention to vote ‘yes.’ He said that while he thinks the bill is unnecessary because overturning gay marriage would disrupt people’s lives in a way overturning abortion did not, he wouldn’t oppose its passage.
“Unlike Roe v. Wade, this pretty well is settled law from the standpoint that people have relied on that and if you overturn it, that’s a big part of Stare Decisis, it would disrupt a lot of people’s lives,” Johnson stated. “Roe v. Wade was about affecting people in the future…as I look at that piece of legislation from the House right now, I don’t see any reason why I should oppose it.”
Despite this, opposition still runs steep among some parts of the Senate Republican caucus. South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham has said that he would continue to support the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 with majority support among both parties in both chambers and signed by Democrat President Bill Clinton.
The Republican Whip in the Senate, Texas’ John Cornyn, who’s fresh off writing the latest anti-Second Amendment legislation with Democrats, has said he feels the issue is an unnecessary distraction because it’s already settled law.
“I think it’s a contrived issue because the Supreme Court’s decided the issue, so I don’t see any reason for the Congress to act,” he stated.
Ted Cruz, Texas’ other Republican senator, along with a few others are also expected to vote ‘no.’ The rest of the caucus remains cagey about giving a direct answer on where they sit. Iowa’s Joni Ernst has said she needs time to review the legislation and Utah’s Mitt Romney believes the bill is unnecessary, but is looking into it.
Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy didn’t say if he would support the bill, but did tell reporters he was amazed they fall for distractions by the Democrats listed off a litany of pressing issues facing the country from a wide open border to record inflation. He said the whole thing was to shift the media’s attention from those issues.
With most Republicans not giving a firm answer one way or the other, it could be a bill with an unknown status until it comes to the floor for a full vote by the body. If it passes, Biden has said he will sign it the moment it gets to his desk. However, even if the bill fails, same sex marriage will still be the law of the land for the foreseeable future with Republican legislators and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh asserting the Obergefell decision isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.