Speed Reads

GOP in disarray

Senate Republicans caught off guard by GOP support for same-sex marriage bill, may help it pass

The Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to enshrine federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage that passed in the House on Tuesday, may actually garner enough Republican support to pass in the Senate. And nobody seems more surprised by that than senators.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), facing a tight legislative calendar, was noncommittal about even bringing the bill up for a vote in the Senate. Then, after 47 House Republicans voted yes, he deputized Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to find 10 Republicans to support it in the Senate. 

"I want to bring this bill to the floor," Schumer said Wednesday, "and we're working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass." He added he "was really impressed by how much bipartisan support it got in the House."

Two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rob Portman (Ohio) — are co-sponsors of the identical Senate legislation, and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), said Wednesday they will likely vote yes. A handful of other Senate Republicans, including Ted Cruz (Texas), John Cornyn (Texas), and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), are hard nos, but most of the other GOP senators were noncommittal, saying they hadn't read the bill, considered it a political stunt, or found it unnecessary. 

The Respect for Marriage Act is one of a series of bills House Democrats are passing in response to the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion — especially after Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, put same-sex marriage and contraception on notice. Only three House Republicans voted for the bill to legalize abortion; the House is scheduled vote on the Right to Contraception Act on Thursday. 

It was clear Wednesday that both parties were "surprised at the level of Republican support in the House" for the same-sex marriage bill, The Washington Post reports. "For Democrats, it meant a chance at actually codifying same-sex marriage protections into law and not just having a political albatross to hang on Republicans. For Republicans in the Senate, it meant a degree of scrambling to come up with a unified strategy."

"It's the right policy," Portman said Wednesday. "I've been told by some of my Republican colleagues this morning, 'It's just a message bill.' I said, 'But it's an important message.'"