Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), the lead Democratic negotiator on the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly in July, announced Thursday that the Senate will postpone action on the bill until after the midterm elections.
“After the election,” she said, when asked about when the bill will come to the floor.
Baldwin had said earlier this week that she wanted the legislation to come to the floor next week, even though it wasn’t assured that it would have enough votes to overcome an expected GOP filibuster.
Baldwin’s announcement came shortly after retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key vote, said the bill would be much more likely to get 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster if it were considered after Election Day.
“If I wanted to pass that and I was the majority leader and I wanted to get as many votes as I could possibly get, I’d wait until after the election to have the vote,” Blunt told reporters.
A bipartisan group of negotiators met Thursday morning to make a decision on whether to release the text of an amendment designed to respond to the concerns of GOP lawmakers who feared the legislation could put churches and other religious institutions at legal risk if Congress voted to codify same-sex marriage rights.
The legislation passed by the House would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and would require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The Supreme Court defended the right to same-sex marriage in its landmark 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that the 14th Amendment protected the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to review that decision and others relying on the concept of substantive due process under the 14th Amendment in his concurrence to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, earlier this year.
The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act overwhelmingly by a vote of 267 to 157, with 47 Republicans voting “yes.”