The Senate will hold off voting on legislation codifying same-sex marriage until after the midterm elections this fall to allow more time to negotiate with wavering Republicans, a bipartisan group of senators said Thursday.
Democrats had been eyeing a vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in July, as early as Monday after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to address the issue “in the coming weeks.”
But Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the lead sponsor of the bill, revealed Thursday the timeline for a possible vote had been revised.
“We are confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass the bill,” Baldwin said in a statement alongside fellow Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Baldwin later told CNN she wants the vote to come up “the day after the election.”
The move comes after weeks of closed-door talks among lawmakers who have sought to amend the bill to attract the 10 Republicans needed to vote in favor of the measure in order to bypass the Senate’s legislative filibuster.
“Through bipartisan collaboration, we’ve crafted commonsense language that respects religious liberty and Americans’ diverse beliefs, while upholding our view that marriage embodies the highest ideals of love, devotion, and family,” the senators said Thursday.
“We’ve asked Leader Schumer for additional time and we appreciate he has agreed.”
Portman said the GOP holdouts needed additional time to review the amendment to the bill before they could get to “yes.”
“We were very, very close,” the Ohio Republican said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) demanded the holdouts publicly explain their reasoning.
“The Republicans need to stand up and explain why they don’t want to vote for equality among all human beings and the right to marry the person you love,” Warren told reporters upon hearing about the delay.
Forty-seven Republicans, including New York Reps. Elise Stefanik, Nicole Malliotakis, Andrew Garbarino and Lee Zeldin, joined all 220 House Democrats in voting 267-157 to approve the bill earlier this summer.
The legislation would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed.
The new Respect for Marriage Act would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
The bill gained momentum after the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which returned the issue of abortion regulation to the 50 states. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court revisit opinions in other cases — including Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
It’s not clear how many holdout Republicans would support the bill when put to a vote.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday that he would be voting against it.
“If they think that improves their chances of passage, that’s their prerogative,” he said of the decision to delay the vote.
With Post wires