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Same-sex marriage bill hits speed bump in the Senate

Posted at 11:18 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 14:19:01-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KERO) — A bill to protect same-sex marriage nationwide is hitting a speed bump. Currently, those unions are legal due to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. But Democrats say they want marriage equality on the books after the federal right to abortion was overturned.

However, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said he would like to see the court revisit decisions that legalized same-sex marriage, contraception and sex acts between consenting adults.

In a concurring opinion in the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Thomas said, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

The Griswold ruling gave married couples the right to access contraceptives. It's been on the books since 1965. In 2003, the court ruled in favor of Lawrence, saying states could not outlaw sex acts by consenting adults.

Thomas was on the bench when the Obergefell case came before the court in 2015. In a 5-4 decision, the court granted same-sex couples the right to get married. Thomas was among the justices who dissented.

A bill to codify same-sex marriage in federal law has passed the House. But it's unclear if enough Republican senators would support it to overcome a filibuster. Four Republican senators say they'd vote for the bill. Eight say they'd oppose it and sixteen say they're undecided or didn't indicate support.

But lawmakers from both parties say they think the bill will get enough Republican votes.

"There was pretty, uh, good bipartisan support in the House. I would expect there would probably be, um, same thing you'd see in the Senate," said Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) disagreed. "I doubt it. If there's a vote, we'll see where the votes are."

Some Republicans say they feel the right to marriage equality is already settled. The Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell case is what's protecting it nationwide. But it uses the same legal principle that had protected abortion access on the federal level.