Tuesday, July 19, 2022

It's Not About Liberals Refusing to Compromise: Respect for Marriage Act Edition

Today, the Respect for Marriage Act passed the House by a 267-157 vote. Forty seven Republicans voted in favor of the bill, dwarfed by the 157 who voted against (all nay votes came from Republicans).

Contrary to popular press coverage, this law does not "codify same-sex marriage". It appears to be far narrower, only ensuring that same-sex marriages performed in one state must be acknowledged in other states. As far as I can tell, it does not forbid states from barring same-sex marriages performed in their borders. In effect, what it "codifies" is not Obergefell but Windsor.

Which makes the overwhelming Republican opposition all the more striking.

This bill could not have been more modest in ambition. It does not simply secure the status quo. It secures a significant retreat from the status quo, at the expense of gay and lesbian Americans' basic civil rights. And even still, Republicans voted against it by more than a 3:1 margin, and its prospects for passing a Republican-led Senate filibuster look dim.

It has been suggested that if Democrats were just a little more moderate, a little less all-in, that Republicans would be willing to work with them. It is the liberals' insistence on going all-or-nothing that compels conservative opposition. Alas, conservatives just can't help themselves. Murc's law strikes again.

No. The Respect for Marriage Act was written to be about as timid and "moderate" as one could possibly imagine without simply running all the way back to Bowers v. Hardwick. And still, it probably won't pass, because Republicans remain overwhelmingly opposed to any degree of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

That's their position. They're not hiding it. They're not reluctantly compelled to vote against these laws because of some mythic liberal overreach. That's their position. Stop pretending that Republicans don't believe what they clearly believe.

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