Same-sex marriage vote shows dramatic shift in public opinion since 1996

Public support for same-sex marriage has grown over the past generation — and federal lawmakers are following suit.

The House on Tuesday voted 267 to 157 for a bill (HR 8404), called the Respecting Marriage Act, that would enact federal protections for same-sex marriages. It would also formally repeal the 1996 law known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as a union between a man and a woman.

The vote came 26 years to the day after the House voted 342-67 for DOMA with the support of nearly two-thirds of the House Democratic Caucus – including some prominent progressives serving in the 117th Congress – and all Republicans except a.

The seismic shift, from most House Democrats supporting DOMA a generation ago to caucus unanimously backing its repeal on Tuesday, suggests that Democrats collectively see federal protections for same-sex marriage as a political advantage rather than the accountability it seemed in 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law 45 days before his re-election. Tuesday’s vote highlighted growing support for same-sex marriage in the years since – peaking at 71% this year from 27% in 1996, according to Gallup data.

(Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

A couple joined in a mass gay wedding ceremony outside the Texas Capitol in Austin a week after the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriages in 2015.

The next stop is the Senate, where the Majority Leader chuck schumer (DN.Y.) said in a speech on the floor Wednesday that he wanted to introduce the bill “and we are working to get the Senate Republican support needed to secure its passage.” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) told reporters it was “possible” that 60 senators would support codifying the legality of same-sex marriage, although he dismissed the legislative ploy as a political maneuver to deflect other issues.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is a co-sponsor of Bill and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will also co-sponsor the legislation (S. 4556), his office said. Portman dropped his opposition to gay marriage in 2013 when he announced he had a gay son.

Senate Democrats seek GOP support on same-sex marriage bill

Hoyer’s mistake

All House Democrats voted for the measure – including the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC), who were among 118 House Democrats who voted for DOMA in 1996. Other Democrats who voted for DOMA include Representatives. Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) and Count Blumenauer (Ore.).

In 2012, when public support for same-sex marriage eclipsed opposition, Hoyer said her vote was “probably a mistake” and one of her daughters came out publicly as a lesbian, according to The Associated Press.

Also that year, President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, overturning his earlier opposition. Obama’s public exposure was catalyzed by his vice president, Joe Biden, declaring days earlier that he was “absolutely comfortable” with such unions.

The bill was sponsored by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (DN.Y.), who faces Rep. Caroline Maloney in an August 23 primary in midtown Manhattan after redistricting, much of their districts were merged. Nadler and Maloney both voted against DOMA in 1996.

Republican support

There were 47 Republican votes for HR 8404 — less than a quarter of the House Republican Conference. In 1996, every Republican in the House voted for DOMA except the former Representative. Steve Gunderson (Wis.), who at the time was the only openly gay Republican in Congress.

House Republican Conference Speaker Elise Stefanik (NY) and Republican National Congress Committee Chairman Tom Emmer (Minn.) broke with most of their GOP colleagues to vote for the bill, while the minority leader Kevin McCarthy (California) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) voted no.

Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House since May 2021, was among eight Republicans who voted in 2019 for an anti-discrimination measure known as the Equality Act. She voted against a version of this bill in February 2021.

Of the six Republicans in the House today who voted for DOMA in 1996, two supported HR 8404 – Fred Upton (Mich.), who is not seeking re-election, and Ken Calvert (California), who is running for re-election in a politically more competitive district that has been redesigned to include Palm Springs, which has a large LGBTQ community. Calvert’s Democratic opponent is Will Rollins, an openly gay former federal prosecutor.

The measure also won the support of nine of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The exception was Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), who is in a primary on Aug. 2.

Cheney Switches

representing Liz Cheney (Wyo.), which is in a tough primary Aug. 16 due to its opposition to Trump, voted for the marriage measure. In 2013, when Cheney started and withdrew her candidacy to run for the Senate, she said she was “not pro-gay marriage” and revealed an intrafamily split over the issue with her lesbian sister, Mary, and their father, a former vice president. President Dick Cheney.

Other Republican supporters included Rep. Mike Garcia (California), a conservative seeking re-election in a competitive northern Los Angeles County district; Representatives. Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar, both first-term Floridians from Miami-area swing neighborhoods; representing Lee Zeldin (NY), which is trying to unseat Governor Kathy Hochul (D) in a heavily Democratic state that legalized same-sex marriage more than a decade ago; and the four Republicans who make up the Utah House delegation.

representing Nicole Malliotakis (NY), a first-term Republican who voted for the marriage equality measure, said she regrets her vote as state legislator in 2011 against New York’s law that legalized same-sex marriage .

“Every lawmaker has votes they regret, and to date this vote was one of the hardest I’ve had to take,” Malliotakis said in a statement. “In the past decade, I have witnessed two marriages of couples who deserve equal recognition and protection under the law.”

Zach C. Cohen in Washington also contributed to this story.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bennett Roth at [email protected]; Robin Meszoly at [email protected]