As Democrats in Washington push to make same-sex marriage and contraception access federal law, Republican lawmakers – including most Texas GOP members – are pushing back.
Democrats in Congress have pushed a series of bills as a sort of response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion last month. The new initiatives would first would legalize abortion across the country again. The Democratic majority has also passed bills that would codify the right to same-sex marriages and the right to access contraception.
Ben Wermund is a Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle.
Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: So what exactly are these measures? Democrats in Congress are trying to get codified into federal law.
Ben Wermund: Democrats have pushed a series of bills sort of in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion last month that first would legalize abortion across the country again and some other measures tied to that. And then they’ve also passed bills that would codify the right to same sex marriages and the right to access contraception. And those are both in response to a concurring opinion that Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the abortion ruling in which he said the court should go back and look at past rulings on those issues.
And am I right that this is the route that needs to happen in order to restore abortion access as it was under Roe? Would it need to go through legislation.
Yes. At this point, that would be what would have to happen essentially to go back to where we were before last month. At this point, it’s kind of a state by state deal.
So how are Republicans in Congress reacting to these proposals?
They’ve opposed them overall. Some Republicans have peeled off on each of the different proposals. There are 47 Republicans who supported the marriage bill that the House passed earlier this week. For example, only one of them was from Texas. It was Tony Gonzales, whose district is goes from San Antonio out west toward El Paso.
And so they’re peeling off these proposals differently. Does this the same-sex marriage proposal seem to have the most potential going forward, or is it hard to tell just yet?
Probably so. There’s a handful of Republican senators who have said that they would probably support it. And it’s actually a bill in the Senate was sponsored by a Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. And so that one seems like it could potentially draw enough support to pass anything at this point. Needs ten Republicans to sign on to pass. And I think last I saw, the count was around five who have said so far that they would support it. Neither of Texas’s senators are likely to support it at this point, but it seems like it might stand a chance overall.
And certainly here in Texas, the Republican Party has adopted anti-LGBTQ stances. Looking closer at that, what can we tell from how they’re reacting? It sounds like this is this issue, though, that that has people on both sides in the Republican Party.
Yeah. It does seem like the Republicans are somewhat split on this, just based on looking at how the House voted and kind of how the Senate has been talking about it, Texas Republicans were kind of a central piece of the debate in the House on this bill. You had Democrats from Texas and from other states who were pointing out that the Texas GOP platform condemns homosexuality as an abnormal lifestyle and pointing to comments that Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have made on the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same sex marriage is kind of evidence that Republicans want to go after it next year.
With the November election looming and Biden’s poll numbers looking poor. Does there is there a lot of urgency to move these along quickly?
Well, I think you’ve seen that in the House. Obviously, they’ve queued up a series of votes over the last couple of weeks on these issues, and they’ve moved them pretty quickly. I think Democrats see these as these kind of social issues, as winning issues for them that obviously on some cases, have even drawn some bipartisan support in the Senate. Another question I think Senate leadership had indicated early on that they probably weren’t even going to bring some of these bills to a vote. But now that you’ve seen some Republican senators voice support for the same sex marriage bill, it stands more of a chance of getting a vote over there and might actually get sped up.
What will you be watching next or what else should we be paying attention to here as indicators as to as to whether these proposals have legs
I think the at this point, the Senate is the place to watch, especially on the same sex marriage issue. It’s interesting to see how it has gained some Republican support. And it’ll be interesting to see if it does come to the floor for a vote the next couple weeks.