NC House Republicans vote against same-sex, interracial marriage as bill passes Congress

Kaitlin McKeown/kmckeown@newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s newly elected senator, Ted Budd, voted Thursday against protecting same-sex and interracial marriages under federal law.

Budd, 51, of Davie County, voted with the majority of House Republicans against the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would legally protect these unions. But his vote didn’t stop the bill from moving to the president’s desk after the House voted 258 to 169 to pass the bill.

Cheers rang out from Democrats on the House floor and in the gallery above both parties as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the bill’s adoption.

Budd currently represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House. But Budd’s vote is significant because of the small number of Republicans who worked with Democrats in the Senate — where Budd will hold a seat beginning in January — to pass the bill. Sen. Thom Tillis, another Republican from North Carolina, shocked his constituents when he worked with Democrats to advocate for the bill’s passage and helped create an amendment the House voted on Thursday.

Budd’s spokesman, Jonathan Felts, declined to comment on Budd’s vote.

House Vote

North Carolina’s House delegation voted along party lines again with it’s eight Republicans voting against the bill and its five Democrats voted in favor of it.

“History made,” tweeted Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat representing Wake County. “Today, we worked across party lines to reject hate and protect marriage equality across the country. We are stronger as a nation when every American is free to marry the person they love.”

Thursday marks the second time Budd voted against the bill. The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act 267-157 in July, with 47 Republicans voting with Democrats. None were from North Carolina.

The bill went to the Senate and would have gone to the president following final passage, but senators added an amendment with protections for religious institutions and safeguards against polygamous unions.

“This bipartisan legislation is a good compromise that provides permanent certainty for same-sex couples while ensuring robust protections for churches and religious organizations, protections that are more robust and expansive than what currently exists in federal law,” Tillis said in a written statement when the amendment was first introduced.

The amendment forced the bill back into the House for final approval before it heads to Biden.

Biden is expected to sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law quickly.

Senate vote

Currently, the Senate is evenly divided between the two parties. Ten Republicans needed to vote with Democrats to advance the bill.

Democrats pushed to protect same-sex marriages under federal law following a decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a landmark decision that protected a person’s right to an abortion. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately that the country’s highest court should reconsider rulings involving access to contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

From the beginning, Tillis advocated and supported the bill. Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican who Budd will replace next session, did not address his plans in advance of the vote, but he supported it.

Twelve Republicans voted last week alongside Democrats to advance it.

While Budd having voted in Burr’s place wouldn’t have changed the outcome, it’s not clear what it would have meant for behind-the-scenes negotiations among senators.