Election 2024

Senate will delay marriage equality bill until after the midterms

February 27, 2017: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to a press conference at the National Press Club
Photo: Shutterstock

After much debate about whether or not to bring the Respect for Marriage Act up for a vote, the Senate has decided it will wait until after the midterm elections take place on November 8th.

“We’re very confident that the bill will pass but we will need a little more time,”said the bill’s lead sponsor, out Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

Supporters of the bill reportedly believe that waiting until after the midterms may make more Republicans willing to vote for it, as the vote won’t take place so close to an election.

Democrats will need 10 Republican senators to sign on in support of the bill, already passed by the House, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, recognize interracial and same-sex marriages performed by states, and require states to recognize marriages performed in other states.

The bill came about in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June. In a concurring opinion on that decision, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested also overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision in 2015 granting federal recognition of same-sex unions.

As of last week, three Republican senators have committed to a yes vote: Collins, Rob Portman of Ohio and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) is a soft yes with a commitment to review the legislation. Senator Ron Johnson, up for reelection in Wisconsin, signaled he had “no reason” to oppose the bill before backtracking to add a religious liberty amendment.

But several Republican senators have not given a firm no, and in an interview with Politico, Collins said she thinks it’s a good sign.

Still, it seems not enough support has been garnered.

“The Republicans need to stand up and explain why they don’t want to vote for equality among all human beings and the right to marry the person you love,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

According to Reuters, a group of senators has been working on an amendment to the bill that would address Republican concerns about religious liberty.

“We were very, very close,” said Sen. Portman, who explained that many Republicans wanted more time to examine the amendment being added.

A statement released by Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Tillis, and Sen. Kyrste Sinema (D-AZ), stated that, “We’ve asked Leader Schumer for additional time and we appreciate he has agreed. We are confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to the pass the bill.”

The statement also called the bill “a simple but important step which provides certainty to millions of Americans in loving marriages.”

Democrats have been on a winning streak this summer, passing landmark legislation including the Inflation Reduction Act; the CHIPS and Science Act, which accelerates high-tech American manufacturing; the bipartisan Safer Communities Act targeting gun violence; and the PACT Act, addressing military veterans’ exposure to burn pits and other toxins.

It’s a winning record going into an election cycle traditionally unfavorable to the party in power. With inflation coming down and poll numbers going up that indicate Americans’ growing fear of anti-democratic values embodied in the MAGA movement, Dems are hopeful they’ve got a chance in November to buck historical trends.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Man who allegedly beat, stomped & called trans woman a “demon” arrested

Previous article

A transgender Joker film has been pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival

Next article