Politics

These GOP Senate candidates oppose marriage equality. They have a chance at winning

The White House in rainbow colors.
On June 26, 2015, the White House was lit with the colors of the rainbow in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.Photo: Pete Souza / White House

Last week, 157 House Republicans voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine the right to same-sex and interracial marriage into law. Every House Democrat voted in favor of the bill. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the legislation in August.

Retiring Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have signaled their support for the legislation. However, their potential replacements and a majority of 2022 Republican Senate candidates fiercely oppose marriage equality — despite 94% of Americans supporting interracial marriages and 71% supporting same-sex marriage. Here’s where Republican Senate candidates in competitive elections stand:

Ohio

State of Play: Rob Portman (R-OH) is retiring. The seat is open.

Republican Nominee: J.D. Vance

  • Vance would vote “no” on the Respect for Marriage Act
  • Recently, Vance suggested that people in “violent” marriages should not get divorced. The potential senator emphasized that children live happier and healthier lives with a mother and father engaged in domestic violence compared to children raised by non-violent LGBTQ parents.

North Carolina

State of Play: Thom Tillis (R-NC) is retiring. The seat is open.

Republican Nominee: Ted Budd

Missouri

State of Play: Roy Blunt (R-MO) is retiring. The seat is open.

Republican Candidate: Vicky Hartzler

Nevada

State of Play: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is running for reelection.

Republican Nominee: Adam Laxalt

Georgia

State of Play: Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is running for reelection.

Republican Nominee: Herschel Walker

  • Hershchel Walker has refused to take a position on the Respect for Marriage Act.
  • When asked whether he would “stop the gay weddings,” Walker said that “each state should determine that.”

Arizona

State of Play: Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is running for reelection.

Republican Candidate: Blake Masters

  • Masters has refused to take a position on the Respect for Marriage Act.
  • Masters said same-sex marriage should be banned, even though he attended the same-sex wedding of his billionaire Big Tech backer Peter Thiel.

New Hampshire

State of Play: Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is running for reelection.

Republican Candidate: Kevin Smith

  • Smith has refused to take a position on the Respect for Marriage Act.
  • Smith tried to repeal marriage equality after the Granite State became the sixth state to legalize it.

In the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent in the decision striking down Roe v. Wade, rights guaranteed through Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas have been called into question.

Republican Senate candidates have made clear they support an erosion of equality protections, making their extremist views on marriage equality, abortion access, and other freedoms central to their campaigns.

If they win in November, more protections for the LGBTQ community could be on the chopping block.

Andrew Godinich is the Senior Director of Communications for American Bridge 21st Century. He has worked on a number of political campaigns and on Capitol Hill.

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