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Nearly 6 in 10 Americans Back Legislation to Protect Marriage Equality

Senate negotiators are confident the Respect for Marriage Act will pass later this month.

Guests listen to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser speak during a Capital Pride rally at Freedom Plaza to celebrate the LGBTQ community on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

The vast majority of Americans back the passage of a federal bill that would codify marriage rights for same-sex couples, according to new polling.

A Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted over the weekend asked Americans for their views on legislation being considered by the Senate this month that would enshrine marriage equality as a protected right. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans — 59 percent — say they support the legislation, while just 29 percent say they oppose the measure.

Opposition to the bill comes almost strictly from the right. According to the poll, 75 percent of registered Democratic-leaning voters back the proposal, as do 62 percent of independents. Meanwhile, just 38 percent of self-identified Republicans support the bill, while 50 percent say they’re opposed.

Given the Supreme Court’s conservative majority and increasing embrace of right-wing extremism, Democrats fear that marriage equality protections may be endangered. In a concurring ruling in the Supreme Court case this summer overturning abortion rights, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the Court reexamine all previous cases that established protections based on privacy rights, which would include Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that recognized marriage equality as the law of the land in 2015.

The Respect for Marriage Act aims to ensure that the Supreme Court’s previous action on marriage equality cannot be undone. The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in the mid-1990s and presently lays dormant due to Obergefell; should the Court undo the precedent it established seven years ago, the law would once again go into effect at the federal level, defining marriage as being solely between one man and one woman. The Respect for Marriage Act would prevent this outcome and overrule laws established at the state level that enshrine homophobic definitions of marriage.

Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the bill with the support of only 47 GOP lawmakers. To pass the bill in the Senate, at least 10 Republicans will have to join with Democrats to defeat the filibuster that is expected from the remaining GOP caucus.

Senators negotiating with Republicans who are considering backing the bill say they are optimistic they will find the votes for the legislation to pass sometime this month, though they have not yet found the 10 votes needed.

Although some Republicans have expressed support for the bill, a number of Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), have disparaged the bill as being unnecessary, with the former calling it a “stupid waste of time.”

Democratic leaders have condemned those comments, pointing out that the Supreme Court has made the bill’s passage critical.

“Let’s remember why a vote on the Respect for Marriage [Act] is necessary,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said to ABC News last week. “Millions upon millions of American women had their right taken away by the extremist MAGA Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision. And in a concurring opinion Justice [Clarence] Thomas opened the door for the Supreme Court going even further.”

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