The Senate is back from recess, and legislators are facing down a daunting to-do list to perform prior to the November election, including passing appropriations bill and confirming more of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. Additionally, there’s now increasing pressure to create time for a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which may offer limited protection to bolster previous Supreme Court decisions legalizing interracial and same-sex marriage when confronted with this summer’s blockbuster decision from the court striking down Roe v. Wade’s landmark legalization of abortion.
The bill was passed inside your home earlier come early july in reaction to the court’s unprecedented move of removing the right once granted. This type of move on its could have raised fears that the court would next overturn other decisions that granted rights like same-sex marriage and contraceptive, but Justice Clarence Thomas erased any lingering doubts that might be found are next on the religious right’s wish list by explicitly inviting lawsuits challenging those previous decisions.
Republicans come in an electoral double bind.
So Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, called on the colleagues to pass new protectionsby arguing in a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday that such legislation is “bipartisan.” After arguing that “most Democrats, Republicans and independents” support same-sex marriage rights, both remember that the legislation already passed through the Democratic-led Home with “strong bipartisan support.” The purpose of both of these senators isn’t mysterious. Passing the bill through the Senate requires getting at night filibuster. That, subsequently, means convincing 10 Republicans to become listed on the slim 50-vote Democratic majority in the Senate to back the bill. Their op-ed was about persuading wary Republicans that it is safe and, actually, savvy to back this politically popular view.
But to call the bipartisan support for same-sex marriage “strong” is, at best, political embroidery.
Same-sex marriage has strong Democratic support. Actually, it’s unanimous, with all 220 House Democrats backing the billand the expectation that 50 Democrats in the Senate will. Only 22% of House Republicans, however, were ready to vote for same-sex marriage. Digging in to the numbers, things look a whole lot worse on the GOP side. As an analysis from the Washington Post shows, a substantial amount of those Republicans who did support the bill “are retiring or represent districts in Democrats’ sights in the midterms.”
Want more Amanda Marcotte on politics? Sign up to her newsletter Standing Room Only.
It doesn’t ensure it is impossible for the bill to feed the Senate, to be clear. If 20% of Republican senators vote for the bill, that’s enough to drag it over the finish line. It’s still not yet determined if which will happen, however.
Several Republican senators have publicly indicated support, but most are being tight-lipped about where they stand. Baldwin told reporters that she expects a vote on the bill through the week of Sept. 19. Butthings took a dim turn this week, when Baldwin’s fellow Wisconsin senator, Republican Ron Johnson, declared he had no intention of voting for the bill, arguing that the Supreme Court was wrong to legalize same-sex marriage to begin with. Johnson was reportedly among the senators who LGBTQ rights advocates had hoped to obtain on board. He could be up for re-election in a swing state this season and had previously been coy about his position, leaving hope he would try to interest moderates by backing the bill. This loss is really a bad blow for all those hoping to pass the bill.
The Republican opposition to abortion rights is hurting them in the polls already. Adding their opposition to same-sex marriage to the pile is only going to reinforce the Democrats’ message: Republicans are right-wing radicals that are wildly out of step with the mainstream on social issues.
But even though LGBTQ advocates have the ability to cobble together 10 votes because of this bill, that must not be taken as serious evidence that Republicans have grown to be more moderate with this issue. It isn’t just that almost all Republican politicians oppose same-sex marriage. The attacks on LGBTQ rights have only been escalating in GOP circles previously year or two. In the united states, Republicans are passing laws to ban books and censor teachers for acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people. Policies to bar gender non-conforming kids from playing sports and to punish families for supporting LGBTQ kids are also enacted. In Texas, the Republican Party platform declared that homosexuality can be an “abnormal lifestyle choice.” Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the top of theNational Republican Senatorial Committee, released an 11-point blueprint for the GOP this season which stated that the “traditional familiy” is “God’s design for humanity,” and asserted a Bible quote concerning the “male and female He created them” ought to be the guide for government policies. In reaction to the Respect for Marriage Act, specifically, the GOP’s House Freedom Caucus released a statement declaring that the “radical left” has “attacked the norms of masculinity and femininity, and today it really wants to further rot the sacred institutions of marriage.”
The “radical” left in cases like this represents over70% of Americans who support same-sex marriage, lots which include 55% of Republican voters. The disconnect between where voters stand and where in fact the Republican political establishment stands is understandably puzzling. Let’s Republicans moderate their views to reflect where their voters are?
Because Republicans come in an electoral double bind.
Similarly, their most dedicated and enthusiastic voters the people who arrive for primaries, donate money, and volunteer disproportionately result from a Christian nationalist base with radical right-wing views. They’re rigidly opposed not only to abortion, but contraceptionand reject the constitutional separation between church and state. And because Christian conservatives vote in good sized quantities in primaries, they’ve pushed the elected representatives far to the proper. However, the overall election voters Republicans have to win office tend to be moderate, especially on “social” issues like LGBTQ rights and reproductive healthcare access.
Want more Amanda Marcotte on politics? Sign up to her newsletter Standing Room Only.
Republicans generally make an effort to square this circle by passing draconian laws to please their Christian right base while wanting to obscure their views from the bigger public. This plan is playing out dramatically this election cycle on the problem of abortion. Following the Roe overturn, Republican state legislatures have already been moving quickly to pass a lot more punitive abortion bans, frequently rejecting moderating amendments allowing the task for rape victims or for patients that are in medical crisis. But often thosesame politicians change and misrepresent their views to the general public, running ads and making statements designed to reassure voters they don’t vote for the anti-choice policies they will have and will probably continue steadily to vote for.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., understands intimately that it is easier for Republicans to win elections if the voters are ignorant of how far-right the party’s policy views are actually. He’s been blocking efforts by Republicans release a a celebration platform, precisely because he knows it could contain language on reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, along with other issues where in fact the GOP opposes almost all views. He had not been pleased with Rick Scott going behind his back again to release the 11-point pseudo-platform for precisely this reason. It created multiple news cycles where the actual views of Republicans, which most voters reject, were publicized.
This likely explains why so many Senate Republicans are playing peek-a-boo making use of their intentions on the Respect for Marriage Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., could be reluctant to create it to a floor vote without knowing whether it’s likely to pass or not. So long as it’s not raised for a vote, Republicans can play both sides of the problem, letting their Christian right base’s wishes prevail without alienating general election voters that are unacquainted with how anti-gay the mainstream GOP is. Once there is a vote, however, it forces them right into a binary selection of alienating one group or another.
This all shows why it’s smart politics for Democrats to create the Respect for Marriage Act up for a vote within the next few weeks, whether or not they know where in fact the whip count stands. Should they get 10 Republican votes, then they’ve passed a favorite policy that also prevents some though not absolutely all potential legal fights over same-sex marriage rights later on. If they do not get the 10 votes, however, it’s still a political win, or even an insurance plan win. The Republican opposition to abortion rights is hurting them in the polls already. Adding their opposition to same-sex marriage to the pile is only going to reinforce the Democrats’ message: Republicans are right-wing radicals that are wildly out of step with the mainstream on social issues.