Only one Texas Republican in Congress voted to protect marriage equality
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales was the only Texas Republican to vote for a bill seeking to codify the right to same-sex marriage. The measure passed the House, but its fate in the Senate is uncertain.
Almost all U.S. House Republicans from Texas on Tuesday opposed formally codifying the right to same-sex marriage into federal law.
The final vote was 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining all 220 Democrats in a rare show of bipartisanship. Republicans typically balk at many Democrat-led bills — particularly those pertaining to social issues.
It’s unclear whether the bill has any chance to pass the Senate, where 10 Republican Senators would have to support the legislation. At least one Republican supports it: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a sponsor of the legislation.
The bill effectively codifies into federal law the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that prohibited same-sex marriage bans nationwide. The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 bill Democratic former President Bill Clinton signed into law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The bill would also require states to recognize same-sex marriages if they were valid in the state they were performed.
The vote is one of several that House Democrats have planned in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark and deeply polarizing decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago. In that ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that the court should consider reversing rulings that said it was unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage, criminalize homosexuality and restrict access to contraception, alarming Democrats.
“I believe this law is key to rejecting the interpretation of Justice Clarence Thomas,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said on the House floor Tuesday morning. “We should not jeopardize someone’s right to love who they want to love.”
Texas voters overwhelmingly voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2005, but several district court rulings had declared that unconstitutional. The state GOP has also condemned same-sex marriage in every one of its biennial platforms, and this year’s platform included a plank that said “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said last week that the 2015 decision prohibiting same-sex marriage bans was “clearly wrong” and represented overreach by the nation’s highest court.
Approval of same-sex marriage keeps increasing in the U.S. A Gallup poll from May found 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage, an all-time high.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, on Tuesday said it would be difficult for the Senate to have enough time to schedule votes on same-sex marriage and contraception rights. The Senate is slated to go on a four-week recess in August.
“We have more priorities than we have time,” Durbin told reporters on Tuesday.