Vote to Enshrine ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ Delayed Until After Midterms

The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage in federal law as the union of a man and a woman.

The bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, follows the House version that was passed earlier in July.
The bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, follows the House version that was passed earlier in July. (photo: AlexLB / Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — The Senate has delayed a highly-anticipated vote to enshrine same-sex marriage into law until after the midterm elections this November. 

The news was announced by lawmakers Thursday after weeks of bipartisan deliberations that left some Republicans with objections to the act’s potential religious liberty implications. 

The bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, follows the House version that was passed earlier in July.

It is being led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Susan Collins, R-Me., who are working across aisles to gain at least 10 GOP Senate votes needed to pass it. 

Baldwin told reporters Thursday she is “very confident” the bill will pass, but said she needs “a little more time.” 

Some Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., have signaled a need to hammer out legislative protections for religious liberty.

“There are some very legitimate concerns about religious liberty, and those concerns would have to be properly addressed,” Johnson said in an interview last week.

Johnson called the act “unnecessary” but said he saw “no reason to oppose it” in a statement in July. 

A record number of 47 Republicans joined Democrats in passing the bill in the House in July.

The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage in federal law as the union of a man and a woman and permitted states not to recognize same-sex marriages that were contracted in other states.

DOMA was already effectively nullified, however, when the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage rights in the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court decisions United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges

Democrats have pushed the bill as necessary after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in that decision, he suggested the court should reconsider all “substantive due process” cases, including the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage. 

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington on July 18.

US House Passes Respect for Marriage Act

In the July 19 vote, Democrats in favor of the bill were joined by 74 Republicans. The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage federally as the union of a man and a woman and permitted states not to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.