Equal Justice under the Law
Supreme Court, right after decision announced (Photo: Victoria Pickering, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

In a bipar­ti­san 267–157 vote, the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Tues­day approved leg­is­la­tion that would cod­i­fy same-sex mar­riage into fed­er­al law as well as repeal the 1996 Defense of Mar­riage Act.

The leg­is­la­tion faces an uncer­tain future in the Sen­ate, where Repub­li­cans have already blocked a bill that would pro­hib­it states from block­ing women who want to trav­el across state lines to secure an abortion.

It needs votes from ten Repub­li­can senators.

All 220 Democ­rats and 47 Repub­li­cans in the House vot­ed to cod­i­fy mar­riage equal­i­ty. One Repub­li­can from Wash­ing­ton, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house, joined the state’s sev­en House Democ­rats in vot­ing yea. So did two oth­er North­west Repub­li­cans, Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Simp­son, R‑Idaho, and Cliff Bentz, R‑Oregon.

Two Repub­li­cans in the Wash­ing­ton del­e­ga­tion, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers from East­ern Wash­ing­ton and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler from South­west Wash­ing­ton, vot­ed nay.

Oth­er pro-mar­riage equal­i­ty votes from con­ser­v­a­tive West­ern states includ­ed Rep. Liz Cheney, R‑Wyoming, and a trio of Utah Repub­li­cans, Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Burgess Owens, Blake Moore and John Curtis.

The vote came on a day when McMor­ris Rodgers sent out a bliz­zard of tweets denounc­ing Democ­rats for their sup­port of abor­tion rights.

Appar­ent­ly see­ing no irony in her vote against mar­riage equal­i­ty, Rodgers tweet­ed: “Every sin­gle per­son – born and unborn – has human rights. It’s self-evi­dent and for Amer­i­ca to be a more per­fect union, our laws must reflect that.”

The House leg­is­la­tion came in response to the 6–3 U.S. Supreme Court deci­sion that over­turned the 1973 Roe v. Wade deci­sion and took away Amer­i­cans’ right to an abor­tion, which is already endan­ger­ing the lives of women across the country.

Clarence Thomas, nar­row­ly con­firmed in the 1990s dur­ing the first Bush pres­i­den­cy, sug­gest­ed in a con­cur­ring opin­ion that the Court revis­it Oberge­fell vs. Hodges, the 2015 rul­ing that made same sex mar­riage a con­sti­tu­tion­al right.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff, D‑California, chair of the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, report­ed in a Tweet: “157 Repub­li­cans just vot­ed against cod­i­fy­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty for LGBTQ+ and inter­ra­cial cou­ples. Repub­li­cans’ back­ward and extreme agen­da can­not be our future.”

By con­trast, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Jor­dan, R‑Ohio, who would chair the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee if Repub­li­cans recap­ture the House, described the vote as “a cha­rade” and “polit­i­cal mes­sag­ing” and an “attempt to intim­i­date the Unit­ed States Supreme Court.”

In pass­ing the Respect for Mar­riage Act, House Repub­li­cans were undo­ing a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry-old embarrassment.

The 1996 Defense of Mar­riage Act, signed into law by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton, defined mar­riage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as hus­band and wife.” Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, ini­tial­ly vot­ed for DOMA, but lat­er became one of the first Democ­rats to call for its repeal.

The House vote gave a look into 2022 elec­tion maneu­vers by the Wash­ing­ton delegation’s three Repub­li­cans. New­house and Her­rera Beut­ler were among ten House Repub­li­cans who vot­ed to impeach Pres­i­dent Trump after then Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capitol.

Since then, until Tuesday’s mar­riage vote, New­house has most­ly been a down-the-line, par­ty-line Repub­li­can, decry­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion and par­rot­ing par­ty talk­ing points. Indeed, on Tues­day he proud­ly announced: “I was offi­cial­ly endorsed by the NRA (Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion) last week. You can count on me to uphold our con­sti­tu­tion­al rights to keep and bear arms.”

New­house faces a trio of pro-Trump Repub­li­cans. One of them, 2020 Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al nom­i­nee Loren Culp, has Trump’s endorsement.

Her­rera Beut­ler is also fac­ing a chal­lenge for her impeach­ment vote, notably from Trump-backed ex-Navy SEAL Joe Kent.

She has court­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic votes in the August 2nd Top Two elec­tion, notably using efforts to low­er the cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

The vote against mar­riage equal­i­ty won’t help efforts to broad­en her base.

McMor­ris Rodgers is in pur­suit of one goal where she needs sup­port of the Repub­li­can right: She wants to chair the pow­er­ful House Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee if Repub­li­cans regain con­trol of Con­gress’ low­er chamber.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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One reply on “McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler vote against marriage equality in U.S. House”

  1. New­house usu­al­ly votes down the line with Rs, but he vot­ed for impeach­ment after the insur­rec­tion and so drew a whole bunch of GOP rivals in the pri­ma­ry, each cra­zier than the oth­ers. New­house has coun­tered them by upping his extreme rhetoric. This vote sur­pris­es me & I’m glad he did it, but I’m vot­ing for Doug White, the only Demo­c­rat in the race.

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