WASHINGTON — A Senate bill aimed at codifying legal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages passed Nov. 16 with bipartisan support, with Indiana Republican senators splitting their votes.
The Senate passed Respect for Marriage Act 62-37 with the support of all 50 Democrats and 12 Republicans, allowing the bill to move to the House of Representatives for easier approval and clearing it for President Joe Biden’s desk.
Republican Senator Todd Young, who was just reelected by Hoosiers to a second four-year term, was one of 12 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. Junior Senator Mike Braun cast a “no” vote on the bill.
The bill was introduced in response to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization of the Supreme Court, which banned federalized access to abortion through earlier precedent Roe v. Wade effectively picked up.
At the heart of this decision, the court deleted the notion of an individual’s “right to privacy” because it is not an explicit constitutional right.
In a unanimous opinion, Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should “reconsider” other cases based on similar conclusions, including previous precedents.
“For that reason, in future cases, we should consider all substantive precedents of this court, including Griswold, Laurentiusand upper skin” Thomas wrote in his opinion.
The Griswold v. Connecticut struck down laws criminalizing possession or use of contraceptives; Lawrence v. Texas enforced anti-sodomy laws and certain states could not criminalize consensual adult sexual activity; and Obergefell v. Hodges repealed state laws banning same-sex marriage in 2015 and made it legal across the United States
Democratic lawmakers drafted legislation that would codify protections into federal law, preventing states from individually making their own laws, as they have done on abortion since the Dobbs ruling.
The Respect for Marriage Act should get bipartisan votes as support for same-sex marriage has steadily increased over time, even among Conservatives, a trend not seen on other social issues such as abortion.
According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2021, 70% of respondents agreed that same-sex marriage should be valid and recognized with the same rights as heterosexual marriage. That support has grown after it first surpassed 50% in 2011, while support was just 27% just 25 years earlier in 1996.
Gallup’s 2021 polls showed support among Republicans passed the halfway point for the first time, with 55% approving. Democrats have endorsed same-sex marriage by more than 80%.
Young has been the more moderate Republican senator in Indiana since Braun’s first election in 2018 and has consistently been among the more moderate members of the GOP faction in the upper house of Congress.
Braun has consistently expressed views in favor of states’ rights on social issues, including widely publicized remarks he made during a March interview in which he said he believed Loving v. Virginia’s ruling that lifted bans on marriages between different races should be left to the States.
Braun later went back to these comments and stated that he misunderstood the questioning during the interview.
The Respect for Marriage bill is likely to pass smoothly in the House of Representatives, which will still have a slight Democratic majority by the end of the year, and where it is also likely to garner bipartisan support from some Republicans to take it to majority approval.