'We Have The Votes': The Senate Will Act This Week To Codify Same-Sex Marriage

With the midterm elections over, Democrats have found enough Republicans ready to join them in advancing basic LGBTQ rights.
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The Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation to codify same-sex marriage and, more importantly, the bill has enough GOP support to pass, HuffPost has learned.

“We have the votes,” a source close to negotiations confirmed Monday.

A bipartisan group of senators has been trying for months to pass a marriage equality bill to protect same-sex and interracial relationships. The House passed its own legislation in July, but that proposal stalled in the Senate, where some Republicans raised concerns that it would stifle religious liberty.

Things got more complicated when, around the same time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a surprise deal on a massive tax and climate change bill. Republicans were so mad that Democrats were ready to pass that deal without them that some signaled they would pull their support for a forthcoming same-sex marriage bill.

But with the midterm elections over and Democrats in position to hold the Senate for another two years, it looks like some Republicans are coming back to the table.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the lead Democrat on the forthcoming bill, tweeted Monday that the Senate is “going to get this done.”

Baldwin also released an overview of what the Senate proposal will do.

Same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are guaranteed the fundamental right to marry under the Constitution. But after the now-conservative court struck down Roe v. Wade in June ― tossing out nearly 50 years of precedent on reproductive rights ― Democrats and some Republicans are anxious about the court’s plans for weakening other civil rights.

In terms of timing on the marriage equality bill, the Senate is expected to vote on it “later this week,” per the source familiar with negotiations.

And because the Senate plans to take the House bill and simply amend it, versus senators introducing an entirely new bill, the House only has to vote to accept the changes to their bill versus starting the process over again.

All 50 Democratic senators have said they’d support legislation to codify same-sex marriage. That means the Senate bill needs at least 10 Republicans to support it, too, in order to overcome a filibuster. So who are they?

So far, the only GOP senators saying anything about this week’s forthcoming bill are the three who are in the bipartisan group that helped get a deal on the bill in the first place: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Thom Tillis (N.C.). The Democrats they’ve been working with are Baldwin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for one, wouldn’t say either way how he’d vote.

“I’ll be voting when the votes are called,” he told HuffPost.

Igor Bobic contributed reporting.

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