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Barrasso, Lummis undecided on same-sex marriage bill

John Barrasso (left) and Cynthis Lummis (right) are both Republican Senators for the State of Wyoming.

By Jasmine Hall
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CHEYENNE — As the deadline to vote on the same-sex marriage bill before the congressional recess approaches on Aug. 6, both U.S. senators from Wyoming said they will make their decision when the legislation is before them.

The Respect for Marriage Act was passed in mid-July by the House, 267-157. It garnered the votes of 47 Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and now the Senate is preparing to take action.

Sen. John Barrasso’s spokesperson told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that he will wait until the bill comes to the floor of the chamber before he reviews the text and makes his decision.

A similar answer was given by Sen. Cynthia Lummis, whose staff responded she is “still considering the bill and will make a decision once she has fully viewed it.”

In order for President Joe Biden to get a chance to sign the bill into law and provide marriage protections for LGBTQ+ couples, it would need 60 votes in the Senate.

The majority party in the 117th Congress is 48 Democrat seats, along with two independents that both caucus with the Democrats, and the minority party is 50 Republicans because Vice President Kamala Harris is a Democrat and casts the tie-breaking vote.

The text of the bill is available at the U.S. Congress website.

Not only would the federal legislation repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, it assures that no person acting under state law may deny marriage between two individuals on the basis of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.”

The attorney general would also be given authority to bring a civil action against any person who violates the law, and provides legal protections for any person who is harmed by its violation. They could seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

Although the law was nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Windsor in 2013, and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, repealing it would guarantee more than the right to same-sex marriages.

It would remove language at the federal level that allowed non-recognition of same-sex marriage, which meant same-sex couples were not eligible for benefits such as Social Security, insurance or join filing of tax returns.

This is not the first time a push for the Respect for Marriage Act to be passed has occurred at the federal level. The bill was originally introduced in 2009, and again in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Since the bill has never made it past committee and onto the floor for Congress members to vote on, Barrasso and Lummis have not had an opportunity to vote on the record.

It was reintroduced this year in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization at the end of June, where a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the court should reconsider cases establishing the right to marry an individual of the same sex.

Thousands of human rights campaign organizers and 173 businesses, such as Apple, Delta Air Lines and Toyota North America, have shown their support for the bill this time around.

While the senators responded to inquiries as to how they would vote, no comment was given on if they support same-sex marriage, believe they are responsible for representing the interests of LGBTQ+ voters in Wyoming, or if they believe this is strictly a state issue.

The party to which they belong does have a clear position, though. The Family Values section of the Wyoming Republican Party’s platform states that they believe in “God’s created order – that in his perfect design, he created two sexes, male and female.”

“Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman,” it states. “The traditional family, based on one foundation of marriage between one man and one woman, is the best institution, and is the authority providing children with education and training.”

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