WASHINGTON — A bill codifying federal protections for same-sex marriages has passed the House of Representatives, but Senate Republicans are wrestling over whether to block or allow it.
As the Democrats seek to portray the Republicans as part of a backward and primitive party intent on undermining the modern right, their decision could matter in this fall’s midterm elections.
Some GOP strategists want the party to overcome the problem by codifying safeguards, but doing so risks angering cultural conservatives, who make up a significant portion of the party’s base. A Gallup poll The study, released last month, found that most Americans — 71 percent — support legal same-sex marriage.
“The issue puts Republicans in an awkward position,” said Jack Pitney, professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College. “Most Americans support same-sex marriage. Even a majority of self-proclaimed Republicans support it. But evangelicals are, and still are, a large portion of GOP activists decline it.
“Broadly speaking, Republican activists don’t like the idea of giving the Democrats a win — even on an issue on which there is broad public consensus,” he said.
For now, Democrats have suspended almost half of the Republican votes needed to break a 60-vote filibuster. With many GOP senators dismissing the bill as unnecessary and blaming Democrats for trying to arm an issue they say has been settled, it’s still unclear whether the legislation will attract enough Republicans to pass it into law to become.
Same-sex marriage remains legal. But the issue was reignited last month after the conservative-leaning court ended abortion rights by ruling Roe v. Wade fell. In that decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, a Conservative icon, called to court also to reconsider the nationwide right to gay marriage and contraception.
The Respect for Marriage Act won 47 GOP votes in the House of Representatives, including from New York’s self-proclaimed “ultra MAGA” Rep. Elise Stefanik and other Conservative members. But 157 Republicans voted no, indicating the continued power of a conservative base threatened by the pace of cultural change.
In the Senate, the bill is supported by Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, a centrist, and Rob Portman of Ohio, who is retiring and has been a supporter of same-sex marriage ever since 2013 after his son told him he was gay.
Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, would vote in favor of the bill, his office told NBC News. And Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican facing a challenging reelection race, reluctantly said he would vote for the law. “While I believe the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary, I see no reason to reject it should it go before the Senate,” he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaskan Republican, said she’s still reviewing the Respect for Marriage Act but noted that she supports same-sex marriage.
But other Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of Texas, have slammed the Supreme Court’s decision that prohibited same-sex marriage in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges legalized nationwide in 2015. Cruz’s office stressed that he was not predicted it would be overturned.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who also faces re-election this fall, will vote against the bill, a Rubio spokesman said, adding that he believes “it’s unnecessary, there are other priorities, and this is it.” an issue he has always believed should be handled by the States.”
Democratic leaders want to vote on the bill — if the bill gets the votes.
“I want to speak up on this bill, and we’re working to get the necessary support from Senate Republicans to make sure it passes,” New York Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said Wednesday.
The result could be due to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who told reporters Tuesday he would not reveal his position until Schumer announces a vote.
“I will postpone announcing anything on this subject until we see what the Majority Leader wants to say,” he said.
Mitch McConnell’s riddle
McConnell, whose top priority is winning a Senate majority this fall, has sought to downplay cultural issues in the midterm elections and instead turn the contest into a referendum on President Joe Biden amid voter disillusionment with inflation. His goal is to appeal to suburban swing voters, many of whom are culturally liberal and who fled the GOP during the rise of Donald Trump.
If he supports or greenlights the bill, it could get more GOP senators to vote for it. A Republican leadership adviser said same-sex marriage is not an issue on which the party is likely to pressure senators to vote one way or another, describing it as a personal decision based on beliefs and legal views.
“The subject is particularly uncomfortable for Mitch McConnell. The legislation protects interracial marriage — and he’s married to an Asian-American woman, Elaine Chao,” Pitney said.
The policy expert said he suspects “GOP politicians are privately frustrated with Clarence Thomas” after his consensus “opinion has given Democrats a powerful rhetorical weapon against the GOP.”
If enacted, the Respect for Marriage Act would repeal a law that defines marriage between a man and a woman and strengthen protections for same-sex married couples, leaving those affected to fight for their rights in court. The bill also provides safeguards for interracial marriage, which the Supreme Court ruled in a 1967 case, Loving v. Virginia, effectively legalized. (Thomas did not call for revisiting interracial marriage.)
It’s not clear if the Supreme Court has the votes to overturn same-sex marriage. But Democrats, unsympathetic to the GOP’s political conundrum, said they weren’t willing to take the risk.
“I hope they face a dilemma because they want to get rid of so many of our rights thanks to this far-right Supreme Court,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii. “I would really like it if we had enough for 60 votes to pass the Marriage Equality Act passed by Parliament. But I don’t think we can do it.”
“Perhaps more people will start to connect the dots and realize that these are issues that have to do with our civil liberties and our constitutional rights,” she said. “And maybe there’s more impetus for Republicans to come on board.”
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said he sees “no reason” to pursue the marriage law.
“I don’t think it’s an issue that anyone is talking about right now,” he told reporters. “I think this is an issue that the Democrats came up with because they like to shift the issue from inflation and gas prices and the border and other issues.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/republicans-split-sex-marriage-bill-faces-uncertainty-senate-rcna39574 Republicans split over same-sex marriage bill facing uncertainty in Senate