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They Won't Stop At Roe

Marchers protest against the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade during the Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in New York City. (Photo: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images)

Progressive Lawmakers Slam Pushing Senate Same-Sex Marriage Vote to After Election

"If there are Republicans who don't want to vote on that before the election," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, "I assume it is because they are on the wrong side of history."

Brett Wilkins

Progressive U.S. lawmakers joined LGBTQ+ advocates Thursday in condemning the Senate's postponement of a vote on proposed legislation that would codify protection for the constitutionally guaranteed right to same-sex marriage.

"You should be able to marry who you love. This shouldn't be controversial."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said senators would delay action on the Respect for Marriage Act, of which she is the lead sponsor, until "after the election" in November.

Baldwin explained that the chances of getting the 10 Republican votes needed to pass the measure in an evenly split Senate would increase after the midterm elections. In July, House lawmakers passed a version of the bill by a vote of 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in voting yes.

"We're very confident that the bill will pass," Baldwin said, according to The New York Times. "But we will need a little more time."

However, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) countered that "we need to vote on equal marriage today."

"Every single member of Congress should be willing to go on the record," she continued. "If there are Republicans who don't want to vote on that before the election, I assume it is because they are on the wrong side of history."

"Equal marriage has been a part of who we are as a nation. We've lived with it for years now," she added. "And protecting it by statute is something every single senator and every single member of Congress should be willing to vote for. And if they're not, they need to go on the record and say so."

"You should be able to marry who you love," tweeted Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). "This shouldn't be controversial. Protect marriage equality now."

Rights groups also blasted the postponement.

"The Respect for Marriage Act is an incredibly necessary, popular, and bipartisan bill—and the lack of 10 Republican yes votes right now is extremely disappointing," Human Rights Campaign interim president Joni Madison said in a statement. "Marriage equality—for both LGBTQ+ and interracial couples—is not and should not be a partisan issue, and to treat it as such is an insult to the millions of families who are impacted."

Madison asserted that the proposed legislation "must be brought to a vote at the earliest possible moment."

In the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, "it is clear there's a timely, urgent need to declare that the days of debate around marriage equality are over," she said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's June reversal of Roe v. Wade—a ruling that voided half a century of federal abortion rights.

The Respect for Marriage Act was born from fears that the high court's right-wing supermajority would not stop at rolling back abortion rights and could—as Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in a concurring opinion in Dobbs—revisit cases that enshrined constitutional rights to same-sex and even interracial marriage.

"Our fight is not over," Madison vowed. "When the Senate returns, they will have a lot of unfinished business to attend to—including both the Respect for Marriage Act and the Equality Act—to ensure that everyone's rights are protected."

"And with the midterm elections on the horizon," she added, "equality voters—LGBTQ+ voters and our allies—will make our voices heard."

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