Senate postpones same-sex marriage codification vote until after November midterms

The Senate will delay voting on legislation codifying same-sex marriage until after this fall’s midterm elections to allow more time to negotiate with wavering Republicans, a bipartisan panel of senators said Thursday.

Democrats were eyeing a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed on Monday after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to address the issue “in the coming weeks.”

But Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the lead sponsor of the bill, announced Thursday that the schedule for a possible vote has been revised.

“We are confident that when our legislation goes to the Senate vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass the law,” Baldwin said in a statement along with Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Susan Collins Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Baldwin later told CNN she wanted the vote to take place “the day after the election.”

The move comes after weeks of behind-closed-doors talks between lawmakers trying to change the law to attract the 10 Republicans who must vote for the measure to bypass the Senate legislative filibuster.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin is the lead sponsor of the bill.
A Senate vote on same-sex marriage law, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, is being postponed until after the midterms.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

“Through bipartisan collaboration, we have created a common sense language that respects religious freedom and the diverse beliefs of Americans while upholding our view that marriage embodies the highest ideals of love, devotion and family,” the senators said Thursday .

“We have requested additional time from Leader Schumer and appreciate that he agreed.”

Portman said GOP holdouts needed additional time to review the bill amendment before they could come to “yes.”

“We were very, very close,” said the Ohio Republican.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged holdouts to explain their reasoning publicly.

All Democrats voted in favor of the bill, with some Republican disagreements.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation reaffirming same-sex and interracial marriages.
Getty Images/EyeEm

“Republicans need to stand up and explain why they don’t want to vote for equality for all people and the right to marry the person you love,” Warren told reporters upon hearing about the delay.

Forty-seven Republicans, including New York Reps. Elise Stefanik, Nicole Malliotakis, Andrew Garbarino and Lee Zeldin, joined all 220 House Democrats to vote 267-157 to pass the bill earlier this summer.

The legislation would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were contracted.

The new Respect for Marriage Act would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “gender, race, ethnicity or national origin”.

The bill gained momentum after the Supreme Court ruled June 24 that Roe v. Wade, sending the issue of abortion regulation back to the 50 states. In a unanimous opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court reconsider the opinions in other cases – including Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

It’s not clear how many reluctant Republicans would support the bill if it were put to the vote.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday he would vote against it.

“If they feel this will improve their chances of passing, that’s their prerogative,” he said of the decision to postpone the vote.

With postal wires Senate postpones same-sex marriage codification vote until after November midterms


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