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On Wednesday the U.S. Senate advanced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would afford members of the LGBTQ community the kind of protection they deserve, and thought they had, until Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas floated the notion of revisiting protections for same-sex married couples.
The House passed a version of the bill a while back and the Senate version – much tougher to approve since it requires 60 votes to get past a filibuster – was worked out through a bipartisan group of lawmakers that included Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
It’s good work. Important work.
Under the bill, the federal government would recognize any same-sex marriage performed in a state where it is valid.
No state would be required to issue marriage licenses to such couples, however.
And there are allowances for religious organizations and nonprofits, saying they’d not be required to provide services or goods for marriage ceremonies.
It’s all part of the compromise that makes the bill palatable.
Sinema transitions from speech to preach
As happens when such a bill clears a big hurdle (this one will eventually go back to the House for final passage), lawmakers take to the Senate floor to speak of the legislation’s importance, almost always trying (and failing) to pretend they’re not looking to take credit.
Sinema took her turn at a microphone and at times sounded like a fairly typical politician, saying in part, “This historic milestone builds off years of incredible strides we’ve made advancing freedom and equality, including hard-fought victories I’ve been honored to help lead.”
Speaking on the Senate floor about our bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act: https://t.co/r0K3RJRv1h
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) November 16, 2022
At times, however, what seemed like a typical political spiel slipped into a sermon, with Sinema channeling preachers and peacemakers from the past.
Spontaneously morphing into Sen. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, and saying in part, “Whether at home in Arizona or here in the United States Senate, in order to deliver real results to the Americans we serve, we need to work together.
“Working together means listening with open hearts, bridging divides, shutting out the noise, and focusing on our shared goals. I’ve seen time and time again how this approach helps us overcome tough challenges.”
Recast as Nelson Mandela, Joan Baez
Sinema has been taking heat for not doing much – if anything – to publicly support Democrats running for office in Arizona.
Perhaps that is why she dressed up her remarks on the marriage act by recasting herself as Sen. Nelson Mandela and saying, “This summer, Arizonans and Americans across the country were confused and scared following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This fear trickled through other communities – including the LGBTQ community – as leaders with extreme ideologies mused about what other changes could come next.”
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Sinema hasn’t publicly responded to the criticism aimed at her, other than to have her staff note that she has endorsed candidates, which did not mollify many members of her party.
This may explain why, in speaking about the marriage act, Sinema metamorphosized into Sen. Joan Baez, adding, “Sadly, in response, we saw elected officials on both sides of the aisle exploit this fear and use it to fuel clicks, book cable news appearances, and drum up outrage to further their own partisan, political agendas.”
The homily of a passive aggresive bipartisan
When you present yourself as the ultimate bipartisan politician – and perhaps that’s what Sinema genuinely is – you cannot respond loudly or crudely to such criticism aimed your way.
Instead, you respond to vitriol with a covertly narcissistic put down aimed softly yet directly at your critics, and which had Sinema concluding as a transmogrified Sen. Mother Teresa, saying, “I thank the many faith communities who helped us expand the policy conversation and ensure that our amendment includes robust and common-sense religious liberty protections.
“The bipartisan support we’ve garnered in the Senate proves this issue isn’t a matter of one party being right and the other being wrong. It’s bigger than angry tweets and bombastic fundraising emails.”
But no bigger, apparently, than an ever-so-polite, directly indirect, sorry/not sorry, passively aggressive homily.
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema just morphed into Sen. Mother Teresa