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Could enough Senate Republicans back bill to codify same-sex, interracial marriage?

Mitch McConnell, John Thune
Posted at 12:23 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 15:23:15-04

After the House passed a bill on Tuesday recognizing same-sex and interracial marriages at the federal level, the question now moves to the Senate.

In order to make it to President Joe Biden's desk, 10 Senate Republicans would have to approve.

On Tuesday, 47 House Republicans voted with Democrats in support of the legislation, which is a direct response to growing concern over a conservative Supreme Court that appears to many as possibly poised to nullify marriage equality in the U.S.

Several Senate Republicans expressed an openness to supporting such a measure.

"I'm looking at the bill and I probably will," Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told CNN.

"That'll be up to Sen. Schumer, but if, and when he brings a bill to the floor, you know, we'll take a hard look at it," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. "I think it's, as you saw, there was pretty bipartisan and support in the house yesterday. And I would expect there would probably be same thing you'd see in the Senate."

Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, was not willing to publicly state a position on the measure on Tuesday.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that same-sex marriage cannot be banned by states.

The legislation is a preemptive attempt to solidify gay and interracial marriage rights nationwide. House Democrats say there is a possibility that the conservative Supreme Court could reverse same-sex and interracial marriage and contraception rights at the national level the same way it overturned Roe v. Wade, which includes leaving the question of legal abortions to the various U.S. states.

“The Supreme Court’s extremist and precedent-ignoring decision in Dobbs v. Jackson has shown us why it is critical to ensure that federal law protects those whose constitutional rights might be threatened by Republican-controlled state legislatures,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “LGBTQ Americans and those in interracial marriages deserve to have certainty that they will continue to have their right to equal marriage recognized, no matter where they live, should the Court act on Justice Thomas’ draconian suggestion that the 2013 United States v. Windsor and 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges rulings be reconsidered or if it were to overturn Loving v. Virginia.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, suggested the Supreme Court was wrong in Obergefell v. Hodges, saying the decision to permit gay marriage should be left to states.

“In Obergefell, the court said, 'No, we know better than you guys do, and now every state must, must sanction and permit gay marriage.' I think that decision was clearly wrong when it was decided. It was the court overreaching,” he said on his podcast. 

Writing the majority opinion in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the Supreme Court should revisit past cases.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote.