Bill on same-sex marriage reveals shift with GOP lawmakers

by Trinity Cardinal

Matt Bush, FISM News


A vote on the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA) Tuesday divided House Republicans with 47 out of a total of 211 Republican Representatives voting “yes.” While the bill is not expected to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate, some Republican Senators have already come out in favor of the bill, suggesting the count could be closer than first expected.

The RFMA would codify same-sex marriage into federal law by repealing the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) passed under the Clinton Administration in 1996. When DOMA passed, it did two things: it gave power to the states to decide whether or not to recognize civil marriages of same-sex couples, and it defined both the word “marriage” and the word “spouse” from the Federal Government’s perspective. 

In 2013, the Supreme Court Case “Windsor v United States” decided that the federal government cannot discriminate against same-sex marriages. That was followed up by the 2015 Supreme Court Case “Obergefell v Hodges” which ruled that the fundamental right of marriage applies to same-sex couples.

Essentially, the rights being fought for in RFMA already exist. The two Supreme Court cases mentioned above overturned DOMA, and many Republican senators believe the legislation to be nothing more than an election-year political stunt.

House Republicans, according to Fox News, called the legislation “a solution in search of a problem.” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) labeled the legislation as, “an election-year gimmick meant to give Democrats a wedge issue in face of skyrocketing inflation and President Biden’s low approval numbers.”

A deeper look, however, may reveal a trend by GOP members of the House and Senate that is deeper than simply a push back against meaningless legislation.

In the most recent House vote, almost one-in-four House Republicans voted yes on the RFMA, and nationwide polling shows a shift in beliefs on same-sex marriage. Gallup reported that 71% of Americans in 2022 support same-sex marriage. In 1996, when Gallup first began collecting polling data on the subject, only 27% of Americans supported legalizing same-sex unions. According to these polls, the majority of Americans and the majority of Republicans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

For the upcoming Senate vote on RFMA to pass, 10 Republicans are needed to join the 50 Democrats who will vote yes on RFMA when the time comes. According to a CNN article, five GOP senators have already said that they either would or would be likely to vote for the legislation. 

Eight Republicans, including high-profile Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Marco Rubio have indicated that they would definitely vote “no” on the measure, but the majority of GOP senators who responded to the question were non-committal. Most of them even stated that the legislation is moot and does not deserve the attention it is getting which begs the question: if it is unimportant, why not just vote what you believe?

Many prominent Christians have come out on this topic as well. Franklin Graham tweeted out his dislike for the bill and questioned how any conservative could vote for it.

The Gospel Coalition, in a recent article, stated that “Christian politicians no longer look to the Christian view of marriage to compel them to support traditional marriage.” The article continued, “it’s shocking that an institution overwhelmingly composed of Christians would abandon even the pretense of supporting the Christian position. In the House, 88 percent of Representatives identify as Christian, and yet 63 percent voted to abandon the Christian view of marriage. “

Whether it be because of nationwide polling numbers, the nature of the political stunt being pulled by Democrats, or because GOP lawmakers are making a genuine shift in their beliefs, their stance on same-sex marriage is not what it used to be and therefore there is still a strong chance that RFMA could pass the Senate to become federal law in America.