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Schumer pledges same-sex marriage vote with GOP support still uncertain

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pledged Wednesday to bring a bill to the Senate floor that would codify same-sex marriage protections, a move that will put GOP members on the spot as Republican support for the bill remains uncertain.


Senate Democrats would need to secure 10 Republican votes to clear the upper chamber’s filibuster rule and begin debate. Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Schumer appeared undeterred when asked if he had 60 votes, saying his caucus wants to pass the measure quickly.

“The vote on marriage equality will happen on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, and I hope there will be 10 Republicans to support it,” he said.

By holding a vote on same-sex marriage, Schumer would force Republicans, most of whom have remained quiet on the legislation, on the record over the issue just weeks before the midterm elections. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who previously indicated he may support the bill, said he would not back the legislation in its current form, according to a new report, chipping away at existing Republican support.

Republican Susan Collins (ME), one of the senators who introduced the bill, as well as Republican Sens. Rob Portman (OH) and Thom Tillis (NC) have indicated they would back the legislation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has indicated her support for same-sex marriage more broadly and would likely support the legislation.

Democrats have argued the bill is necessary in the wake of a Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade, pointing to a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas that appeared to invite legal challenges to other prior rulings by the high court, such as those related to contraception and same-sex marriage. But Republicans who have made their opposition to the bill clear, including Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Lindsey Graham (SC), have said no such effort is underway and that the bill is merely Democrats’ attempt to appeal to their base.

However, most Republicans have not yet taken a position on the bill, with many indicating they would wait until they can review the text. Schumer bringing a vote to the floor would force Republicans either to support or oppose the bill.

Schumer has recently brought several doomed-to-fail issue bills up for a vote, including one on abortion rights and another on voting rights, so his indication that the Senate will vote on same-sex marriage does not necessarily indicate he will have the votes to pass the legislation.

The Respect for Marriage Act was passed by the House earlier this year in a bipartisan vote that included 47 House Republicans. But the proposal faces more difficult odds in the Senate, with 60 votes still uncertain.

The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Collins.

In a jointly authored piece this week for the Washington Post, Collins and Baldwin wrote that it is “a worthy use of the Senate’s time” to codify same-sex marriage protections.

“We have worked across party lines to bring the Senate together and build support for the Respect for Marriage Act because we should be able to agree that same-sex and interracial couples, regardless of where they live, both need and deserve the assurance that their marriage will be recognized by the federal government and that they will continue to enjoy freedoms, rights and responsibilities that come with all other marriages,” they wrote.

Some reports this week indicated that Democrats may seek to attach the measure to a stopgap spending bill under negotiation this month.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who hasn’t yet made his position on the same-sex marriage bill clear, appeared to oppose that method of passing the bill, telling reporters Wednesday that the best way to pass the spending bill with little controversy is to make it “clean.”


Schumer indicated that he would prefer to vote on the same-sex marriage legislation as a stand-alone bill while discussing his intention to add permitting reform to the spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, as part of a previous commitment to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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