Same-sex marriage bill teeters on brink of GOP filibuster

That may not be enough for most Senate Republicans, who are expected to have a competing amendment on religious exemptions to same-sex marriage protections courtesy of Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Only three GOP senators strongly support the bill and it’s far from clear, despite expectations of success, that a total of 10 will emerge.

Right now, no one knows “the exact answer” to whether the same-sex marriage measure can overcome a buccaneer, Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) said Thursday, adding that the leadership of the GOP had yet to officially count the votes. He flagged where he was leaning: “If this is what I think it’s going to be, I’m probably not.”

If Baldwin and Collins can’t break a Republican filibuster with their religious freedom speech, it would mark a stunning turnaround from a July vote that saw 47 House GOP lawmakers in favor. It would also give Democrats a powerful pre-election example of GOP blocking legislation on an issue widely popular with the public. But only one Republican incumbent, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, is about to feel great pain hesitating on the bill, and he has indicated he will vote no on the current version.

House Democrats, who drafted and passed the original bill to enshrine same-sex marriage into law, are closely watching potential Senate changes. And many don’t foresee problems with a new language, as long as it’s negotiated and approved by Baldwin.

The House originally passed the same-sex marriage bill in late July, one of several bills Democrats passed after the Supreme Court’s ruling was overturned. Roe vs. Wade featured a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that directly challenged other privacy rights, including same-sex marriage.

In a surprise even to the House Democrats who drafted the bill, nearly 50 House Republicans ultimately supported codifying same-sex marriage and interracial marriage rights. That surprisingly large margin of support quickly stoked momentum across the Capitol, where Senate Democrats, led by Baldwin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), began working to secure enough GOP votes to send the bill in President Joe Biden’s office.

Yet so far only three Republicans – the senses. Rob Portman si Ohio, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Collins – have pledged to vote for the bill, with Tillis breaking with his partner in gun safety, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on the question. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) spoke positively about it and supports same-sex marriage, but did not officially say she would be a yes.

And there hasn’t been much public movement on the bill since the House passed it this summer. In interviews Thursday, several Senate Republicans, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, all said they had no updates. on their position, with several saying they had to rewatch the final. text.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he is currently working with the bill’s supporters on the religious freedom element, “and we’ll see if we make enough progress or not.”

In the meantime, many Republicans are dismissing the legislation as unnecessary, arguing that the Supreme Court should not overturn its 2015 ruling enshrining same-sex marriage in law. Democrats counter that few thought the High Court would overturn deer until weeks before it does this summer.

And Democrats see political benefit in pressing Republicans on another social issue, with a recent poll showing that the end of deer should boost voter turnout ahead of the midterm elections. That aspect doesn’t sit well with Senate Republicans, some of whom are skeptical the bill will ultimately get the votes to bust a filibuster.

“I don’t see 10 Republicans,” said Cornyn, a former GOP whip and close adviser to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I guess if people were inclined to support it, they would have declared it in favor by now.”

The same-sex marriage vote will be the first time in years that the Senate has passed stand-alone LGBTQ rights legislation. The last high-profile vote came in 2013, when the Senate passed a law banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Although the bill ultimately failed in the House, it won the support of 10 Republicans, including Collins, Murkowski, Portman and Toomey.

Proponents of the current same-sex marriage bill note that public opinion on the issue has changed dramatically, particularly since the 1996 passage of Senate legislation that defined marriage as occurring only between a man. and a woman. This bill, passed by 85 votes to 14, was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. (The Supreme Court ultimately struck down a key provision that prevented the federal government from providing marriage-related benefits to same-sex couples.)

However, the years since have seen several Republican senators intervene in LGBTQ-related matters. In 2017, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led 10 conference colleagues to file an amicus court case with the Supreme Court with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a custom cake for a like-minded couple. sex, citing his religious beliefs.

Tillis said bipartisan negotiators plan to work through the weekend to finalize the text of the religious freedom amendment.

“Everyone asks me, ‘Do you have any commitments?’ and I say, ‘Look, if somebody comes to me and wants a commitment, they have to [nail] down text,” Tillis said. When asked if he thought 10 Republicans would ultimately support the effort, the North Carolina Republican balked: “It really depends on how well we get the final language right.”

Sarah Ferris and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.


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