47 House Republicans vote to write same-sex marriage into law

Jose Luis Magana, File/ AP Photo
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Nearly 50 House Republicans voted to write same-sex marriage into law Tuesday, joining all Democrats in a heavily bipartisan vote that would've been considered unthinkable a decade ago.

Democrats loudly cheered from their side of the chamber as the bill passed 267-157, with 47 Republicans backing it, including members of GOP leadership such as Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and National Republican Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) voted no.

“This bill makes crystal clear that every couple and their children has the fundamental freedom to take pride in their marriage and have their marriage respected under the law,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in floor remarks.

A 2015 Supreme Court decision required states to recognize same-sex marriages, but Democrats urged a codification of the policy in the wake of the court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last month. In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas voiced support for reconsidering the court’s earlier same-sex marriage ruling.

The short bill, which faces an uncertain path in the 50-50 Senate, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It would also require states to recognize same-sex marriages, as long as it was valid in the state in which it occurred.

Many Republicans who voted to approve the bill hail from the younger ranks of their party. Other notable yeses included Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.).

“If gay couples want to be as happily or miserably married as straight couples, more power to them. Trust me, I've tried it more than once,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), another yes, tweeted immediately after the vote.

It's unclear if the Senate will take up the legislation, as Democratic leaders remained noncommittal on Tuesday. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he would personally support putting it on the floor, but questioned whether there's enough time on the calendar with the Senate set to go on an extended recess in two weeks and two huge party priorities to finish before then.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would not say Tuesday if there would be a floor vote but said, “we're going to look at everything we can do.”

Attitudes concerning same-sex marriage have shifted rapidly in recent years. Republicans have largely moved on from their adamant opposition to same-sex marriage in cultural wars. A record 71 percent of people in the U.S. support gay marriage, according to a June poll from Gallup.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.