GOP senator says climate bill could spell doom for marriage equality bill

Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that a climate bill that the Democrats want to pass in the Senate could spell doom for the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill to codify federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages should the Supreme Court overturn those rights.

“I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue,” she told the HuffPost.

Proponents of the Respect for Marriage Act say it’s necessary after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federal right to an abortion. Roe was built on some of the same legal principles as Obergefell v. Hodges (the decision that legalized marriage equality in all 50 states), and Justice Clarence Thomas said in his concurring opinion that the Court should “reconsider” Obergefell and other women’s and LGBTQ rights victories.

Collins voted to confirm Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, both Trump appointees who were part of the majority that overturned Roe.

Senate Democrats reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping bill to invest in climate reduction and health care while reducing the deficit by cracking down on tax cheats.

Collins didn’t say why senators couldn’t vote for both the Respect for Marriage Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Instead, she argued that negotiations between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the Inflation Reduction Act were kept under wraps until another bill about computer chips passed the Senate and that makes it harder, for unexplained reasons, to vote to support marriage equality.

“After we just had worked together successfully on gun safety legislation, on the CHIPs bill, it was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way,” she said.

Despite hurt feelings over the Inflation Reduction Act, Collins said that she still supports the Respect for Marriage Act. She just doesn’t know if it’s going to pass before the Senate goes to recess in August.

“I don’t know and I’m going to continue to work for support for the bill,” she said.

Supporters of LGBTQ rights have been heartened by some Republicans expressing support for the Respect for Marriage Act. Ten Republicans will be needed to vote to end debate so that the Senate can vote on the bill itself.

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