The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 18 pushed through legislation that could codify Americans’ right to same-sex marriage. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — subsequently removing the right to abortion for people capable of pregnancy — other decisions may be at risk. As a result, legislators are working to ensure same-sex marriage stays.
Naturally, some congresspeople don't support same-sex marriage. However, there are many that do. While the House overwhelmingly passed same-sex marriage codification, the Senate is poised to be more torn. Of the senators poised to vote on a bill protecting same-sex marriage in the constitution, these ones are in support.
Quick recap: Why same-sex marriage is on the docket.
In a concurring opinion released in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas stated the high court “should reconsider” other rulings, like a person’s right to birth control access and same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage at a federal level in 2015. Despite this, the right isn't yet codified in law, an oversight that could lead to its overturn. This is precisely what happened with Roe v. Wade, which sat uncodified for a staggering half a century and ultimately disintegrated in a swift legislative decision. The Respect for Marriage Act seeks to solidify protections for same-sex marriage across the U.S.
As the Respect for Marriage Act heads toward the Senate, which senators are in support of same-sex marriage?
Democrats are almost exclusively likely to vote in favor of same-sex marriage (every single House Democrat voted to pass the bill that would codify the right). This includes openly gay Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The real concern in the Senate lies with the Republicans. If at least 10 Republicans vote in favor of the same-sex marriage bill, the Senate can overcome the filibuster and end the debate. However, it isn't clear if that will happen.
While 47 of 213 House Republicans voted in favor of same-sex marriage, many Republican senators are either outspoken against or mute on the matter of same-sex marriage. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the 2015 decision “was clearly wrong.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) refused to comment on the matter, leaving his stance up in the air.
Other Republicans are in favor of same-sex marriage (or at least don’t overtly believe the federal right should be overturned). Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, “The predicate of this is just wrong. I don’t think the Supreme Court is going to overturn any of that stuff,” referring both to birth control access and same-sex relationships and marriage.
The Respect for Marriage Act is a bipartisan proposal at its core, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Collins has been an outspoken Republican advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including same-sex marriage. When the Senate votes on the Respect for Marriage Act, the U.S. will see just how many of Collins’ peers maintain the same belief. The date remains unclear as the Senate is poised to debate on the matter (and a filibuster could prolong that debate or open up the possibility of a Supreme Court overturn).