Out Sen. Tammy Baldwin schools Marco Rubio on marriage equality bill

Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI) Photo: Campaign photo

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said that she confronted her colleague Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in an elevator after he made comments opposing the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), a bill that would require the federal government and other states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them.

Earlier this week, Rubio told journalist Christian Hall that gay people aren’t even worried about marriage equality.

“I don’t know why we’re doing that bill, there’s no threat to its status in America,” he said. “But I know plenty of gay people in Florida that are pissed off about gas prices.”

Proponents of the RMA say that the Supreme Court has shown that it’s willing to overturn rights after it recently overturned Roe v. Wade, and they cite Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion that said that Court should “reconsider” Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that ended state bans on same-sex couples marrying in 2015.

On Wednesday, Rubio said that the RMA was a “stupid waste of time” as he was walking to an elevator.

Baldwin – the first out LGBTQ person elected to the Senate – took the opportunity to educate Rubio.

“You probably would have loved to be on the elevator to see the exchange after,” Baldwin told a CNN reporter.

“I said that, ‘The recent Supreme Court decision eroded a constitutional right to privacy. There’s a whole bunch of cases that have been decided based on a constitutional right to privacy that are in jeopardy,’ which he disagrees with,” she recounted. “And anyways, I said we’ll be talking some more.”

When CNN asked if she was offended by Rubio’s comments, Baldwin brushed away any concern.

“We’re not going to get into [that],” she said. “I’m counting votes.”

And she thinks that there are the 10 Republican votes in the Senate required to overcome the filibuster and pass the bill.

Earlier this week, the House passed the RMA with most Republicans voting against it. Many Republicans said that they voted against it because there was no need for it, but out Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) called out lawmakers who were hiding behind that procedural argument.

“If it’s not necessary, then vote for it. If you’re right that we’re worried and we shouldn’t be, reaffirm it,” he said. “But don’t hide behind that to justify your refusal to vote for marriage equality in this country.”

Other Republicans openly stated that they’re against LGBTQ equality.

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that’s how God created it,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said before the vote.

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