A highly contentious vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage at the federal level has been put on hold until after the November midterms, as the legislation struggles to garner 60 votes in support.
Politico reports that the bipartisan group of senators working on the bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, made their announcement on Thursday. They had previously been considering a vote on the legislation as soon as Monday of next week, but determined that they could not garner enough Republican support to overcome a possible filibuster that would kill the legislation.
The bill’s chief sponsor is Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and the other four senators working on the legislation are Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The group met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to formally recommend that his originally-scheduled vote be postponed until after the election, since the legislation as it stands now is likely to fail in a floor vote.
“I’m still very confident that the bill will pass, but we will be taking the bill up later, after the election,” said Baldwin. “We will be putting out a joint statement.”
As 60 votes are needed to overcome a likely filibuster, at least 10 Republican senators are needed by the Democrats. Despite having the commitment of the three who are already working on the bill, it has appeared increasingly unlikely that seven more will join.
Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer’s office, said that he was “extremely disappointed that there aren’t 10 Republicans in the Senate willing to vote yes on marriage equality legislation at this time,” but added that “Leader Schumer will not give up and will hold the bipartisan group to their promise that the votes to pass this marriage equality legislation will be there after the election.”
Despite the current setback, there is speculation that the bill could pass after the midterm elections in November, during the period of time known as the “lame-duck” session of Congress, where several outgoing senators are still in office until the new members are officially sworn into office in January. Portman is one such senator, as is Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who said that “if I wanted [it] to pass and I was the majority leader and I wanted to get as many votes as I could possibly get, I’d wait until after the election.”
A previous version of the bill was passed by the House of Representatives in July. The version now being crafted in the Senate is attempting to address conservatives’ concerns about religious freedom, while still legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Same-sex marriage has been considered a constitutional right ever since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. However, some believe that the previous decision could soon be overturned by the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority, particularly after the court overturned the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade earlier this year.