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.