A fascinating vote, although not as fascinating as the vote will be if the Senate ends up considering this bill.
New: House votes to protect same-sex marriage in case the Supreme Court rescinds it
The Respect For Marriage Act passed by a vote of was 267-157, with 47 Republicans supporting it.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 19, 2022
The 47 Republicans who voted yes include nine of the 10 who voted to impeach Trump (as well as Elise Stefanik, Liz Cheney’s replacement in the House leadership). The lone exception: Jaime Herrera Beutler, who’s locked in a tough primary fight in Washington.
Bill to codify federal recognition of same-sex marriage gets 47 GOP yes votes. Here are the 39 I counted: pic.twitter.com/2N5YvLOlHc
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) July 19, 2022
Here’s the text of the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA), which will take you all of 30 seconds to read. It doesn’t create any federal right of gay marriage. Rather, it repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act signed by Bill Clinton and requires states to give full faith and credit to any lawful marriage performed in another state. So if SCOTUS ends up overturning the Obergefell case that recognized a constitutional right of gays to marry, gay couples from red states could get married in blue ones and then demand that their home states recognize the validity of their union under the RFMA.
Pelosi’s strategy in forcing the vote is obvious. She’s keen to scare swing voters by leveraging Clarence Thomas’s concurrence in the Dobbs case, where Thomas called for overturning various landmark “substantive due process” cases touching on sexual autonomy, including Obergefell. And she knows that support for legal gay marriage polls remarkably well, which left House Republicans here between a rock and a hard place. If they voted for the bill, they’d be siding with Pelosi and the libs over social conservatives, angering the base. If they voted against the bill, they’d be angering the great majority of American voters. That’s a tough one for a Republican in a swing district.
Especially since, according to Gallup’s poll last year, a majority of *Republican voters* now support legal gay marriage as well.
A more recent Gallup poll published last month found national support ticking up to 71 percent. Normally a 71 percent issue is easy for politicians, but House GOPers know that it’s not moderates who tend to turn out in party primaries.
How would Donald Trump have voted on this bill? How would Ron DeSantis have voted? We’re unlikely to find out, as the no-win nature of it means they’re better off not commenting.
Because it’s such a knotty dilemma for righties, Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team decided not to whip against the bill. House Republicans were free to vote their conscience, and in this case “conscience” included “whatever you need to do to maximize your odds of getting reelected.”
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios he thinks his Republican colleagues have shifted on LGBTQ+ issues since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015: “I think many have [softened].”…
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who has positioned herself as a relative libertarian on issues like marijuana, said she’s “leaning into supporting” the bill but wants to read it first: “I fully support the rights of anyone to get married.”
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), whose district absorbed several large LGBTQ communities in redistricting this year, said he “probably will vote for it.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) said she plans to vote for the bill and predicted it will “get quite a few Republican votes,” adding, “All I can do is speak for myself. It’s the right vote and I’m proud to vote for it.”
In the end, I think the vote ended up being easy-ish for most purple-district Republicans. Many, like Mace, are already past their primaries; gay marriage is already the law of the land thanks to Obergefell; and the bill is likely to die in the Senate, which should appease social cons who’d otherwise hold a grudge over the House vote. It’s a consequence-free vote in many respects, in other words. And now that it’s over, they can put the issue behind them and get back to focusing on inflation.
Are we sure the bill will end up dying in the Senate, though? McConnell was asked about RFMA today and notably didn’t commit to blocking it.
#BREAKING: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Respect for Marriage Act: “I’m going to delay announcing anything on that issue until we see what the Majority Leader puts on the floor.” pic.twitter.com/KuQaxW9lyT
— Forbes (@Forbes) July 19, 2022
The bill has one Republican sponsor in the upper chamber, Susan Collins, and will almost certainly have Lisa Murkowski aboard as well. It’s conceivable that some of the caucus’s retirees, from Pat Toomey to Roy Blunt to Richard Burr, might also support it, having nothing to lose. Finding another five votes on top of those five would be tricky but I wonder if McConnell will end up quietly leaning on some moderates to vote yes and help Schumer get to 60 even if he himself end up opposing the legislation. Remember, McConnell worries that the GOP has lost ground among suburban voters during the Trump era and is keen to gain some of it back by showing that the party can moderate (a little) on cultural disputes. That’s why he supported the Senate gun bill spearheaded by John Cornyn and also why he was quick to rule out eliminating the filibuster to ban abortion nationally if Republicans find themselves back in charge of government in 2025.
Cocaine Mitch wants November to be a pure referendum on Biden and inflation, with no cultural flashpoints scaring swing voters away from backing Republicans. The end of Roe and Thomas’s aggressive concurrence about substantive due process complicated that for him. Finding 10 Republican votes to support the bill and require red states to grant full faith and credit to gay marriages performed in blue states would help un-complicate it.
But it’ll be hard. Republican voters may support gay marriage on balance but they reeeeeally dislike seeing their representatives hand the libs a culture-war win instead of “fighting.” Some will also complain that those who voted yes in the House incentivized Democrats to hold other “show votes” in this vein, whereas a party-line no on grounds that the issue isn’t salient at the moment might have blunted the impact:
“It’s not an issue!” she says. “What they’re doing is totally for campaigns, it’s for November.”
She made clear that she personally believes marriage is between a man and woman, but it’s interesting to see the Right on the defensive about an issue that used to motivate the base.
— bryan metzger (@metzgov) July 19, 2022
The best thing McConnell has going for him is that Schumer and his team are terrible at politics and might not even take up the House bill, never mind the discomfort that doing so would cause Republicans:
Durbin says it will be tough to schedule votes in the Senate on bills protecting gay marriage, contraception given the packed calendar.
“We have more priorities than we have time,” he says
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 19, 2022
Either Schumer gets 10 GOP votes and a big win for his base by passing the bill or he forces the Senate GOP to block it and Dems get to say that McConnell’s caucus is part of the rump 29 percent of Americans that wants to break up gay families. It’s weird that Dems might not be able to find a day or two of legislative time to give themselves that gift.
I’ll leave you with this curious complaint from Jim Jordan during the floor debate today. For 20 years Republicans argued that legislatures rather than courts should determine the lawfulness of gay marriage. Today, with the public now on the side of legalization, Jordan complains that legislating on the issue is an affront to a member of the Court.
Jim Jordan dismisses the marriage equality bill as “simply the latest installment of the Democrats’ campaign to delegitimize and attempt to intimidate the United States Supreme Court.” pic.twitter.com/RGpyJM1EQR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 19, 2022