Senate delays vote on same-sex marriage bill until after midterms

Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009. Gay activists staged mock weddings across Australia on Saturday as the governing Labor Party voted against changing its ban on gay marriage.
Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009. Gay activists staged mock weddings across Australia on Saturday as the governing Labor Party voted against changing its ban on gay marriage. | Reuters/Mick Tsikas

After more than 400 Republicans backed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to pass a bill codifying a right to same-sex marriage into federal law, leading supporters of the legislation have said that a vote won't take place until after the midterm elections in November.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a leading Republican supporter of the Respect for Marriage Act, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a top Democratic proponent of the bill, announced Thursday that the Senate will hold off on voting on the bill until after the November elections.

The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in July with the support of 47 Republicans and all Democrats. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The announcement comes after The Washington Post reported Monday that more than 400 prominent Republicans have signed on to a letter expressing support for the Respect for Marriage Act.

Congressional Democrats introduced the bill following the U.S. Supreme Court's June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a national right. The Respect for Marriage Act would codify the right to same-sex marriage established in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision into federal law.

The Washington Post identified some of the letter's signatories as Pennsylvania's Republican Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, Colorado's Republican Senate nominee Joe O'Dea and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Additionally, the letter was backed by more than two dozen unnamed former Republican elected officials.

"As Republicans and conservatives, we believe strong families and lasting relationships strengthen communities, and civil marriage is a fundamental freedom central to liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the signatories wrote. "We stand with the 71 percent of Americans, including a majority of registered Republicans, who support the freedom to marry for all Americans."

The letter concludes with a plea for the U.S. Senate to "pass the Respect for Marriage Act and reaffirm that marriage for gay and lesbian couples is settled law."

"Passing the Respect for Marriage Act will remove any uncertainty for the more than one million Americans who are building families, taking on the responsibilities and commitment associated with marriage, and caring for the one they love," the letter states. 

FiveThirtyEight's Deluxe Model, which predicts the outcome of elections "based on polls, fundraising, past voting patterns" and the opinions of political experts, gives Republicans a 71% chance of retaking control of the House of Representatives after the midterms. The Republican support for the bill in the House means it could still have the votes to pass absent a large Republican wave. However, it remains possible that Republicans would not bring the bill to the floor for a vote if they control the chamber. 

At the same time, FiveThirtyEight's Deluxe Model gives Democrats a 71% chance of maintaining control of the U.S. Senate. The model predicts the Democratic majority will increase to a 51-49 margin. If such a scenario pans out, the chamber will likely have more supporters of the bill in the new Congress than in the current Congress. 

It remains unclear whether a vote will take place in the "lame duck" session of Congress that will meet after the midterms but before the new 118th Congress is sworn in or after the new Congress begins in January. 

Democrats have expressed concern about the fate of Obergefell following the Dobbs decision. In a concurring opinion in Dobbs, Justice Clarence Thomas slammed the idea of substantive due process often cited as the constitutional justification for the Roe decision finding a right to abortion as "legal fiction." 

Thomas also suggested that the justices should "reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents," including Obergefell. At the same time, Thomas is willing to consider whether "other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated," including same-sex marriage.

Thoams agreed with the majority opinion that "[n]othing in [the court's] opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion."

The letter by more than 400 Republicans comes as the Respect for Marriage Act has failed to secure the necessary votes for passage in the U.S. Senate.

While Republican Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have indicated that they are likely or certain to support the measure, their support leaves the bill's proponents short of the 60-vote threshold required to pass most legislation in the chamber. 

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., had previously suggested that he would vote for the Respect for Marriage Act but appeared to have walked back his support after experiencing backlash over his position.

Collins, a co-sponsor of the bill, predicted in an interview with The Huffington Post that supporters of the Respect for Marriage Act would have a hard time getting Republicans to vote for it due to outrage over the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act without a single Republican vote. 

Legalized same-sex marriage enjoys the support of a supermajority of Americans. A poll taken by Gallup in May 2022 revealed that 71% of Americans support allowing same-sex couples to marry. A survey published by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a slight majority (51%) of Republicans support same-sex marriage. 

However, Gallup identified Americans who attend church weekly as the group most opposed to same-sex marriage, with just 40% supporting it. Deeply religious Americans constitute a sizable portion of the Republican electoral coalition. They have made their opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act clear, citing concerns about its implications for religious liberty. 

In a letter submitted to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shortly after the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, leaders of 83 religious and conservative groups urged the chamber to reject the measure.

The signatories characterized the bill as "an attack on millions of Americans, particularly people of faith, who believe marriage is between one man and one woman and that legitimate distinctions exist between men and women concerning family formation that should be recognized in the law." 

The letter also warned that the Respect for Marriage Act "aims to shut down any disagreement, silencing those with the long-held conviction that marriage between one man and one woman is essential to human flourishing, a view that has existed from the dawn of time." They wrote that the bill "effectively deputizes activist groups to sue religious individuals, organizations, and businesses that operate according to their deeply held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman and also act 'under color of state law.'" 

"The bill multiplies the threats against tens of millions of Americans who in 'good faith' proclaim a marriage view with which the Act's sponsors disagree while, laying the foundation for increased federal action and litigation against them," they concluded.

Signatories to the letter included Michael Farris of Alliance Defending Freedom, Ryan Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld of the Coalition for Jewish Values, Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project and Brian Burch of CatholicVote.  

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.