Senators accused of ‘insulting’ LGBTQ+ community by postponing vital marriage equality vote

The United States Capitol Building, the seat of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Senate delaying a vote on the Respect For Marriage Act has been condemned as an “insult”.

Democrat Tammy Baldwin confirmed on Thursday (15 September) that a Senate vote on the bill to codify same-sex and interracial marriage had been pushed back until after the November elections.

Baldwin said more time was needed to secure the Republican support required to pass the bill – it comes amid complaints by GOP senators that the vote was being pushed a tactic to influence the polls.

The very idea of a same-sex marriage vote being delayed by partisan politics was labelled as ridiculous by the Human Rights Campaign, which said that the US “shouldn’t be debating federal marriage equality in 2022.”

“This legislation would guarantee that same-sex and interracial couples would not see a day when their rights could be stripped away simply because of who they are or whom they love,” the HRC continued. “Now, that guarantee hangs in the balance.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, support federal marriage equality and the protections set by past Supreme Court decisions. This isn’t a partisan issue and to treat it as such is an insult to the millions of families impacted.”

The HRC called for a vote “as soon as possible” and said it refuses to “wait on the sidelines”.

The bill would repeal currently the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The legislation was voided by Supreme Court rulings in 2013 and 2015 but could become active if the rulings were overturned.

Democrats suggested the legislation after the overturning of Roe v Wade, which set an unnerving precedent for other Supreme Court socio-political decisions to be reconsidered by court justices. It passed through the House with a 267 to 157 win, with all 220 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting in favour.

If all 50 Democrat senators voted for the bill, it would still need the support of 10 Republicans.

But several cross-party senators have been working together to ensure that the votes needed to pass the bill are found before time is up, including Republicans Rob Portman and Thom Tillis, and Democrats Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“My personal preference is to put everyone on the record before the November elections but I understand the decisions that are made about when the prospects are best for passing the measure,” Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal said. “I want a law, not just a bill.”

Some Republicans have claimed that the bill needed to be restricted further to allow for “religious liberty and clarification,” including a section that would not legalise polygamy.

Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said he was “extremely disappointed” that the measure doesn’t currently have the Republican support to back it up, but is “100 per cent committed to holding a vote on the legislation this year”.