Same-Sex Marriage Senate Bill Advances With 12 GOP Votes

A group of 12 Senate Republicans joined with every Democrat in the upper chamber in a Wednesday vote to advance a bill that is designed to codify a right to same-sex marriage into federal law.

The Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of moving forward on the Respect for Marriage Act, surpassing the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster of the legislation. The new bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and would create a federal statutory right to interracial marriage in addition to same-sex marriage.

The bill was introduced shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in June.

The Republicans who voted in support of the new bill were Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN).

The legislation was largely prompted by progressive fears that the Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning Roe would lead to other Supreme Court decisions overturning other decisions that declared same-sex and interracial marriages to be legal throughout the nation.

Indeed, the concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in Dobbs indicated he would be willing to revisit other decisions the court has issued that rely on the “substantive due process” doctrine based on the Fourteenth Amendment.

However, the court’s lead majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito made it clear that the Dobbs ruling would not stand as a precedent for the reversal of rights to marriage. He wrote that “the Court emphasizes that this decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

The Respect for Marriage Act has already passed in the House by a vote of 267 to 157. The bill was supported by 47 House Republicans.

Now that the Senate has moved the bill past the filibuster rule, it must receive a final vote that requires only a simple majority for passage. It would then go back to the House for a final vote on the amendments added by the Senate and would then go to Joe Biden to be signed into federal law.

Romney said that he disagrees with same-sex marriages but voted for the bill on “legal principles.” He said that the Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide “has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied.”

Collins said that she supported the bill because it accomplishes the goal of promoting equality “while maintaining—and indeed strengthening—important religious liberty and conscience protections.”