Does the country need a national law guaranteeing the right to gay marriage? Some in Congress say yes, and a vote could happen in the Senate as early as this week.
It has become a critical week for the same-sex marriage bill as Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) continue to work to win over enough GOP senators, according to the Washington Post.
They’re getting help from some prominent Republicans, including GOP Senate candidates – an indication of the politics of the issue in some states.
In a campaign led by Ken Mehlman, who managed former President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, over 400 former and current GOP officials have signed a letter being released today backing the bill.
Mehlman came out as gay more than a decade ago and spent years working to convince his fellow Republicans to support gay marriage.
“As Republicans, Libertarians and independent-minded conservatives, we believe strong families and lasting relationships strengthen communities, and civil marriage is a fundamental freedom central to individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the letter reads. “We stand with the 71 percent of Americans today, including a majority of registered Republicans, who support the freedom to marry for all Americans.”
Gay marriage through the years
The last two decades have seen gay rights expand greatly across the United States. And after San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses for gay marriages in 2004, gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, the first state to allow same-sex marriage. .
In 2015, the Supreme Court made gay marriage a constitutional right and the law across the United States.
Since then, thousands of Americans have celebrated their love in ceremonies around the country.
More recently, In July 2022, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would codify protections for same-sex marriage into federal law, with 47 Republicans joining the Democrats in passing the bill.
However, 157 Republicans voted against the measure and seven Republicans didn’t vote.
And that is why Senators Baldwin and Collins are currently trying to secure support for the Respect for Marriage Act from 10 Republicans by reaching some potential amendments that would protect religious liberty in an effort to push forward the legislation for a vote this month
The Respect for Marriage Act came about in the wake of the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which had overturned Roe v. Wade on the basis that abortion protection was not a “deeply rooted” right in the Constitution.
Several Democratic lawmakers feared that Obergefell v. Hodges would be overturned by the Court in the future, partially due to Justice Clarence Thomas naming the case as one that should be revisited, including “Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”
In his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas laid out his vision of what he would like to get rid of next – envisioning the demise of contraception, same-sex marriage, and LBGTQ rights.