Respect for Marriage Act: The 36 Republicans who voted against protecting same-sex marriage

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell were among the 36 Republican senators who voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to protect marriage equality

The same-sex marriage bill passed in the United States senate by 61 – 36 votes on Tuesday (29 November), with all but one Democrat voting in its favour.

Twelve Republican senators, including Mitt Romney, also voted for the bill, according to the Washington Post.

The bill was passed with an amendment designed to assuage Republican concerns, which “protects religious liberty” and ensures religious non-profits will be able to withhold services, facilities or goods for same-sex marriage celebrations.

Because of the amendment, the bill now goes back to the House before it can be signed off by the president, who said he will “proudly” approve it.

“Today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act proves our nation is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love,” US president Joe Biden said in a Tweet.

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“I look forward to the House passing this legislation and sending it to my desk, where I will proudly sign it into law.”

The list of 36 Republicans who voted against the Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday is as follows:

  • John Barrasso, Wyoming
  • Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
  • John Boozman, Arkansas
  • Mike Braun, Indiana 
  • Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
  • John Cornyn, Texas
  • Tom Cotton, Arkansas
  • Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
  • Mike Crapo, Idaho
  • Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Steve Daines, Montana
  • Deb Fischer, Nebraska
  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
  • Chuck Grassley, Iowa
  • Bill Hagerty, Tennessee
  • Josh Hawley, Missouri 
  • John Hoeven, North Dakota
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi
  • Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma 
  • Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
  • John Kennedy, Louisiana 
  • James Lankford, Oklahoma
  • Mike Lee, Utah
  • Roger Marshall, Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell, Kentucky 
  • Jerry Moran, Kansas
  • Rand Paul, Kentucky
  • Jim Risch, Idaho
  • Mike Rounds, South Dakota
  • Marco Rubio, Florida 
  • Rick Scott, Florida 
  • Tim Scott, South Carolina 
  • Richard Shelby, Alabama
  • John Thune, South Dakota 
  • Tommy Tuberville, Alabama 
  • Roger Wicker, Mississippi

Two Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

How will the Respect for Marriage Act work?

The Respect for Marriage Act would protect existing unions if the right to same-sex marriage was ever struck down by the Supreme Court in the future, which LGBTQ+ Americans feared after Roe v Wade fell in June.

Should that happen, same-sex marriage rights could potentially revert to the states, of which several still ban same-sex marriage on their books despite equal marriage being the law of the land. 

The Respect for Marriage Act assures that any marriage valid in the couple’s home state is considered valid by the US government, and will be recognised by every state. 

The new bill also officially repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that specifically defined marriage as only existing between a man and a woman. The bill has not been enforceable since 2013, however, the new bill takes it off the books. 

The legislation does not legalise same-sex marriage throughout the US, however, if the Supreme Court overturned 2015’s Obergefell v Hodges decision to legalise same-sex marriage, 35 states would likely outlaw it again.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote: “Today, after many rounds of bipartisan talks and after many doubts that we could even reach this point, we are taking the momentous step forward for greater justice for LGBTQ+ Americans.”

The bill also has an amendment, accepted on Monday (28 November), which protects religious liberty, and confirms that no nonprofit religious organisation would have to provide goods, services, or facilities for wedding ceremonies or receptions.

Jim Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalised same-sex marriage in the US (Getty Images/Tommaso Boddi)

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalised same-sex marriage in the US, told the BBC he was “not all that pleased” with the Respect of Marriage Act.

He explained that while he would rather have some protection than none at all, he was frustrated with the religious liberty amendment that allows religious organisations the right to refuse services for same-sex weddings. 

“I don’t like it, but I’ll take it,” Obergefell said.

He added to TYT: “If the Respect For Marriage Act does protect our rights as married couples and as families in our nation, I’m certainly not going to say no. Could it be better? Yes.”

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