Senate Democrats are moving forward with legislation this week to protect marriage equality, the principle that requires lawmakers to treat same sex and interracial couples the same as unions between a man and woman.
While economic anxiety remains high and Republicans will soon be able to hold the nation hostage to potentially disastrous demands over the debt ceiling, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is holding a test vote on the bill, betting that at least 10 Republicans will vote with all 50 Democrats to move forward with the legislation to ensure that all marriages are legally recognized nationwide.
It’s not yet certain whether Democrats have the 10 GOP votes they need to overcome a filibuster and get a bill through the 50-50 Senate but it is clear that President Joe Biden’s party is not making their top priority financial concerns of the vast majority of Americans, including gay and lesbian voters, ethnic minority groups and other persecuted people in the working class.
So far, at least three Republicans have said they will vote for the legislation and are working with Democrats to pass it: Maine Sen. Susan Collins, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the federal right to privacy, which guaranteed that women could make their own decision about an abortion to end unwanted pregnancy instead of having government interference in that choice.
An opinion at that time from Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that earlier high court decisions protecting same-sex and interracial marriages could also come under threat.
Congress has been moving to protect same-sex marriage as support from the general public — and from Republicans in particular — has sharply grown in recent years, as the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalized gay marriage nationwide. Recent polling has found more than two-thirds of the public supports same-sex unions.
Only a minority of states legally recognize common law marriage, a legally and socially sanctioned union between two people who have not purchased a marriage license or had their wedding solemnized by a ceremony.
There were 35 states that prohibited same-sex marriage or created a second class civil union and only 13 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that allowed same-sex couples to be eligible for marriage licensing when the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in the landmark civil rights case known as Obergefell v. Hodges.
No politician ever won election on civil rights issues but establishment Democrats want to show that they remain out of touch by avoiding significant work on complex tax policy, reversing the decline in living standards among working middle-class voters or saving the planet from environmental disaster.
In 50 years, Democrats did not codify the right to privacy and many suspect that is because they preferred to keep the threat of ending abortion alive to motivate women to oppose Republicans but defending the right of LGBT Americans is a greater priority not only because it alienates one segment of the population to the detriment of genuinely progressive candidates, but mostly due to the amount of money generated by donors.