The United States Senate today took a huge and historic step towards codifying marriage equality into federal law. On a bipartisan vote of 62–37, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404), which would send a powerful message to the Roberts/Alito Court that the executive and legislative branches of our federal government do not want the Obergefell decision overturned, and finally repeal the “Defense of Marriage” Act.
“Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” said President Joe Biden in a statement released by the White House.
“Today’s bipartisan vote brings the United States one step closer to protecting that right in law. The Respect for Marriage Act will ensure that LGBTQI+ couples and interracial couples are respected and protected equally under federal law, and provide more certainty to these families since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. I want to thank the Members of Congress whose leadership has sent a strong message that Republicans and Democrats can work together to secure the fundamental right of Americans to marry the person they love. I urge Congress to quickly send this bill to my desk where I will promptly sign it into law.”
The votes exist to pass the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives at least until early January, when Republicans could have a slight majority. (The outcome of a number of U.S. House races remains uncertain over a week after Election Day.) It’s therefore of paramount importance for Congress to get this bill passed so that it can get done before Kevin McCarthy’s caucus gains power. Senate Democrats needed at least ten votes from Republicans to break a filibuster and invoke cloture. Amazingly, they got twelve.
The twelve Republicans voting yea were:
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Susan Collins of Maine
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Mitt Romney of Utah
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Todd Young of Indiana
Notably, Tillis, Portman, and Burr are all retiring and so will not risk the wrath of the ultra MAGA cult for voting yea. Lisa Murkowski is awaiting the results of the next round of ranked choice voting in Alaska to learn her fate.
Every Democratic and independent senator voted yea.
One Republican Senator, Ben Sasse, missed the vote.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Yea to Codify Marriage Equality: Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (AK)
Voting Nay Against Marriage Equality: Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT)
“The Supreme Court has proven time and time again that they will defy the will of the people without issue, and NextGen America commends the work of the Senate for taking this huge step forward to defending our most basic freedoms and codifying same-sex marriage into law,” said NextGen America President Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez in a statement sent to NPI.
“Last Tuesday, young voters turned out at historic levels to propel Democrats in the Senate to victory, trusting in these leaders to build a better future and protect our most basic civil liberties. And today, Senate Democrats showed up for young voters and their vision for the future,” Ramirez added.
“Young people in this country are overwhelmingly progressive and believe all Americans should be able to love and marry who they want.”
“Now we call on lawmakers in the House to advance the Respect for Marriage Act to President Biden’s desk without delay and move us closer to achieving the basic equality we are fighting tirelessly for.”
NPI thanks the twelve Republican senators listed above for voting to protect Americans’ freedom to marry and providing the votes needed to invoke cloture in the Senate. We congratulate Democrats for delivering yet again on an important priority for the American people. With the undemocratic filibuster no longer an impediment to H.R. 8404, it’s all downhill to President Joe Biden’s desk, and we can expect a joyful bill signing ceremony in the next few weeks. Hurrah!
This post will be updated with additional reaction from our region’s congressional delegation as we receive it.