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Blunt, Hawley disagree in vote to codify same-sex marriage into federal law

One of Roy Blunt’s final acts as senior senator from Missouri was to vote in favor of a proposal to codify same-sex marriage in federal law Wednesday. Sen. Josh Hawley voted against it.

“This bill is now designed to accomplish two things,” Blunt told the Springfield News-Leader. “People who are legally married in one state have the same protections and responsibilities in any other state that are offered to and required of marriages. And this legislation enhances the religious freedom for all Americans by protecting religious organizations from retaliation by federal agencies due to their views on marriage. I believe it’s better for Congress to clarify these issues than for federal judges to make these decisions.”

Hawley’s vote was not unexpected. He previously said he did not believe Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, was correctly decided.

“I disagree with that ruling, but that ruling is law and it’s not going to get overturned,” Hawley told the “Kansas City Star.” “There’s no appetite for that. I’m not advocating that.”

The Wednesday vote is a key procedural hurdle for the bill, which is expected to see final passage later this week. It passed the House in July: Missouri’s two Democratic representatives voted yes, and four of its six Republican members voted no. Rep. Ann Wagner, who represents suburban St. Louis, voted in favor. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, did not vote.

In total, 12 Republican Senators voted in favor.

Democrats began to move to enshrine protections for same-sex marriage in federal law earlier this year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to ban abortion. Members of the party and advocates for LGBTQ+ equality have pointed to writings from Justice Clarence Thomas that indicated overturning Obergefell could be a possibility in the future.

The Respect for Marriage Act ensures a marriage is valid in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. It also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a bill passed during former President Bill Clinton’s administration that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Although it was found unlawful by the Supreme Court in Obergefell, it has remained in federal statute.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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