We All Deserve the Freedom to Marry
We All Deserve the Freedom to Marry: Signs seen at a Hillcrest, San Diego parade in 2009 (Photo: Nathan Rupert, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

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. 

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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