Tri-State delegation splits on same sex marriage vote

Published 5:43 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

Portman, Capito join Democrats in passage

The U.S. Senate delegation of the Tri-State delivered a split vote on Tuesday, when bipartisan legislation protecting same sex marriage passed the chamber and was sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Democrats Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, and Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, voted with all members of their party and two independents (who caucus with Democrats) in favor of the bill.

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The bill passed the Senate, 61-36, including support from 12 Republicans.

Republicans in favor included Rob Portman, of Ohio, and Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia.

Portman was a co-sponsor of the bill and had lobbied colleagues to vote in favor of it.

“This is a momentous day in the Senate and I am proud of my colleagues whose hard work made passage of this bill possible,” Portman said following the vote. “The American people want this issue settled, and with the passage of this bill, millions of married couples will get the certainty and peace of mind they deserve by having their marriage protected.”

Kentucky’s two U.S. senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, voted with their party in opposing the bill.

Portman, who is retiring in January, had, at one time, opposed same sex marriage, but made headlines in 2013 when he changed his position on the issue after his son told him he was gay.

“The Supreme Court acknowledged same-sex marriage as a constitutional right in 2015, yet current law allows states and the federal government to refuse to recognize valid same-sex marriages,” Portman said. “The Respect for Marriage Act, which has already passed the House with bipartisan support, simply guarantees that a valid same-sex marriages from one state will be recognized by the federal government and other states. It ensures that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Most Republicans still oppose the legislation, saying it is unnecessary and citing concerns about religious liberty. And some conservative groups stepped up opposition in recent weeks, lobbying Republican supporters to switch their votes.

In an effort to win the 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping that would relieve political pressure on GOP senators who might be wavering.

“Throughout this process, I also listened to the concerns raised by religious organizations and worked with my colleagues to strengthen the religious liberty protections in the bill while still preserving the rights of same-sex married couples,” Portman said. “A group of constitutional scholars who specialize in religious liberty have analyzed the bill and concluded that it does not pose new litigation risks to faith-based groups, but contains important protections that will now be enshrined into the law. I believe that the rights of same-sex couples can and must coexist with religious freedom protections and that the rights of both groups can be advanced when people come together and work in good faith.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this story