A bill codifying the federal right to same-sex marriage will not get a vote until after the November election, negotiators including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said on Thursday.
The senators behind the bill were racing this week to draft a religious-freedom amendment intended to win the support of the 10 Republicans needed to break the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, tentatively scheduled a vote for next week.
They were effectively done drafting the bill on Thursday, but the group decided to lobby Schumer for more time to lock down holdouts ahead of a vote that may be easier for on-the-fence Republicans with socially conservative bases after the midterm elections. He agreed with them on Thursday, when they struck an optimistic tone.
“We are confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate floor for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass the bill,” Collins, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor, and other negotiators said in a statement.
Only four Republicans had signaled support for the legislation through this week, including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who were involved in the negotiations. Many others have stayed silent or come out against the legislation.
A long push for this bill was revived after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal abortion rights. In a concurring opinion, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the 2015 decision that granted the federal right to same-sex marriage was wrongly decided and should be overturned.
Collins cited “good progress” on the issue last week. Both senators and LGBTQ-rights groups have been optimistic about its chances. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has been noncommittal on the bill, while No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune has said he would probably oppose the current version but does not know how the votes would land.
The Maine senator has long stood out in her party on LGBTQ issues, becoming the fourth Republican in the chamber to support same-sex marriage in 2014. That was nearly two years after Maine legalized it at the ballot box.
After she won plaudits from LGBTQ-rights groups on her record, they broke with her in 2020 after her high-profile vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent group that endorsed her Democratic opponent two years ago, has praised her role in negotiations on the Baldwin bill.