Feature

Where key Senate Republicans stand on the Respect for Marriage bill

The House on Tuesday passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill enshrining the right to same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law (lest the protections as ruled upon by the Supreme Court meet the same fate as the newly-overturned Roe v. Wade). The landmark legislation garnered perhaps a shocking amount of bipartisan support, with 47 Republicans voting alongside all Democrats to send the bill to the Senate, where its passage … also actually stands a chance? Trust us, the senators are just as surprised as you

While Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) figures out a way to bring the bill to the floor, here's a quick look at where several prominent GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber stand on the legislation, as well as how they're expected to vote if and when the time comes: 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine): Yes

The moderate Collins is co-sponsoring the bill alongside Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), meaning her support for the legislation is guaranteed.

"Maine voters legalized same-sex marriages in our state nearly a decade ago, and since Obergefell, all Americans have had the right to marry the person whom they love," Collins said in a release. "This bill is another step to promote equality, prevent discrimination, and protect the rights of all Americans." Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): Yes

Portman is now also a cosponsor of the Senate bill, and thinks there is a "possibility" the legislation garners 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster. He described a vote on the issue as sending an "important message."

"When you look at the House vote and you look at just the shifting sentiment about this issue," he said, per CNN. "I think this is an issue that many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, feel has been resolved." The Ohio lawmaker previously announced his support for same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay, CNN noted.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): Likely yes

Murkowski, another moderate, is expected to vote in support of the bill. "I have long made known public my support for marriage equality," she said recently, per Bloomberg.

Asked for comment by CNN, Murkowski said that "not only would I like to see Roe, Casey, and Griswold on contraception codified but I've also made clear my support for, for gay marriage years ago."

"So I will look at what the House is doing and see what that might mean here on the Senate side," she added.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): Likely yes

Though not guaranteed, Tillis has said he will "probably" support the bill if and when the time comes.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah): Unclear

Unlike other GOP lawmakers and most Democrats, Romney has said he's not worried about the court revisiting past decisions like Obergefell, as was suggested by Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in the case that overturned Roe.

Thomas has "opened a lot of doors that no other justices walk through," Romney said Wednesday. And in regards to the Respect for Marriage Act bill, the senator told reporters that he hasn't thought much about the necessity of the legislation considering same-sex marriage is currently legal.

"We all know what the law is. I haven't given consideration to that legislation, in part because the law isn't changing and there's no indication that it will," he said. "And clearly, the legislation from the House is unnecessary, given the fact that the law is the same, and we'll take a look at it as it comes our way." 

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Unclear

According to CNN, Minority Leader McConnell hasn't (as of Thursday) taken a clear position on the matter. When asked if he'd vote to support the House-passed legislation, he replied, "I'm gonna delay announcing anything on that issue until we see what the majority leader wants to put on the floor."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): No

Cruz, who said on a recent episode of his podcast that he believes Obergefell was wrongly decided and should be overturned, is not expected to vote in favor of the bill. "If you succeeded in convincing your fellow citizens, then your state would change the laws," he said during the episode. "In Obergefell, the court said, 'No, we know better than you.'" Notably, however, the senator went on to clarify that he doesn't believe the court has "any appetite" for overturning the ruling.

And when asked recently how he would vote on the legislation when and if it's brought up in the Senate, Cruz was noncommittal and vague: "I support the Constitution and letting the democratic process operate," per CNN.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): No

Cornyn, who was once thought a possible "yes" on the bill, has now essentially cemented his opposition. "This is a contrived controversy in pursuit of a political narrative that somehow that decision by the Supreme Court is in jeopardy," the senator said of the legislation. "I don't believe it is, and this is an effort to try to stoke the fires of political activists and scare them with a narrative that I think is a false narrative."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): No

Rubio explicitly told CNN he will vote "no" on the bill, which he called a "stupid waste of time." Rather, the Florida senator said Congress should be focusing on "real issues" like inflation and energy.

"Those aren't real issues. I've never seen a person come up to me and talk about getting rid of gay marriage," he said in the wake of the House vote. "This is what [Democrats'] base is demanding that they do."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): No

Graham has affirmed he will be voting against the Respect for Marriage Act, though it is because he supports the old measure that the new bill wants to repeal. The Defense of Marriage Act, as it is called, "allowed individual states not to recognize marriages performed in other states until it was ruled unconstitutional in Obergefell," The Hill writes.

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