Twelve Senate Republicans on Tuesday supported final approval of a bill securing federal protections for same-sex marriage, allowing it to surpass the 60-vote threshold needed for passage.
The Republicans in the upper chamber who backed the bill were Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Todd Young (Ind.).
From left, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., talk with reporters following Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.
The GOP senators’ support came as no surprise since they all supported advancing the legislation in a series of recent votes, and Tuesday’s 61-36 vote now sends the legislation back to the House, which previously passed a similar version.
Three of the bill’s Republican supporters — Collins, Portman and Tillis — served as lead negotiators.
The five-member group, which also included Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), had punted the legislation until after the midterm elections to improve its chances of passing, also adding provisions to alleviate some Republicans’ religious liberty concerns.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., center, joins Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, to talks about Democrat efforts to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.
“Tonight, the Senate took a historic step to help prevent discrimination, promote equality and protect the rights of all Americans by passing the Respect for Marriage Act that @SenatorBaldwin and I authored,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “Our bill would help ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”
Blunt, who had publicly expressed support for the delay, cited the religious liberty protection additions in voting for the bill.
Blunt, Portman and Burr did not seek reelection this year and will retire from the upper chamber in January.
Some Republicans who supported the bill, including Lummis, said they did so while personally disagreeing with gay marriage.
“Wyoming is the Equality State, and while I firmly believe marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman, I respect that others hold different beliefs,” Lummis said in a statement, citing her state’s constitution.
Romney, who earlier this fall was still undecided on the bill, similarly voiced approval after the Mormon church announced it supported the legislation. Romney is a longtime active member of the church.
“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied. This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally,” Romney wrote in a statement after an earlier vote to advance the legislation.
With the exception of Sen. Raphael Warnock, who missed Tuesday’s vote as he campaigned for Georgia’s upcoming runoff, all Senate Democrats supported the legislation.
Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who previously opposed a procedural vote on the bill, also missed the vote, in addition to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).