House passes bill to protect same-sex marriage. What are its chances in Senate?
Vote comes amid fears of the court striking same-sex marriage rights after recently overruling Roe v. Wade
A bipartisan group of representatives passed a bill Tuesday to codify same-sex marriage into federal law, but it already faces an uphill climb in the evenly divided Senate.
The bill comes amid fears that the Supreme Court’s current conservative majority may vote to overturn precedent established in 2015, which secured constitutional protections for same-sex marriage.
The bill, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 — which defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman — and would prevent states from denying the right to marry to same-sex or interracial couples.
The Respect for Marriage Act passed by a final vote of 267 to 157, with 47 Republicans joining the Democratic majority.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Is bipartisan support possible?
In order to reach President Joe Biden’s desk the bill needs to pass the Senate, where filibuster rules require a 60-vote majority. At least 10 Senate Republicans would need to be in favor, assuming all 50 Democrats are in support.
That seems unlikely, given that many Republicans have traditionally been opposed to enshrining same-sex marriage. That includes Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said over the weekend that the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” when it ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Cruz made the comments in a clip from his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” which was uploaded to YouTube on Saturday.
What Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said
Referencing the Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, Cruz used similar reasoning to argue that the legality of same-sex marriage should be left to the states. Like Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges — the landmark 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage — was decided based on protections given in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
- “Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states,” Cruz said. “We saw states before Obergefell — some states were moving to allow gay marriage, other states were moving to allow civil partnerships. There were different standards that the states were adopting and had the court not ruled in Obergefell, the democratic process would have continued to operate.”
- “That decision was clearly wrong when it was decided,” Cruz said, calling the decision “overreaching.”
Could the Supreme Court overturn the right to same-sex marriage?
Many LGBTQ activists have expressed concern that the Supreme Court could restrict marriage rights, following a concurring opinion in which Justice Clarence Thomas said the Court should reconsider cases involving contraception, intimacy and same-sex marriage rights.
But Cruz says same-sex marriage rights will be treated differently by the court because many couples have already married and, unlike abortion, it doesn’t involve “the taking of a human life.”
- “You’ve got a ton of people who have entered into gay marriages and it would be more than a little chaotic for the court to do something that somehow disrupted those marriages that have been entered into in accordance with the law,” he said.