Senate coronavirus infections threaten passage of marriage equality bill

Senate coronavirus infections threaten passage of marriage equality bill
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). (Image via Creative Commons).

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Monday afternoon announced her positive COVID diagnosis — the fourth member of the Senate in recent days to test positive for COVID-19.

Hours earlier, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) also announced he had tested positive for COVID. On Thursday, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) announced he had tested positive and was isolating for five days. That same day Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) announced her positive test, but she returned to work Monday.

The current absence of three (likely) pro-same-sex marriage voting Senators due to COVID may throw a wrench into Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plans to put to a vote legislation to protect same-sex marriages.

According to multiple sources, Democratic Leader Schumer had planned to put the bill up for a cloture vote this week. It would require 60 votes to move forward. Despite reports, including from The New York Times saying it had been seen as “dead on arrival,” CNN and Huffpost found a significant number of Republican Senators, although not yet officially ten, indicating they would vote to pass the legislation.

READ MORE: Joe Rogan torches Republican aversions to marriage equality and reproductive freedom

Among the more surprising Republicans indicating they would vote to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, codifying existing same-sex marriages into law, was Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Murkowski was one of the first four to express support for the bill. HuffPost senior politics reporter Igor Bobic reported in addition to Murkowski, Senators Susan Collins (ME), Rob Portman (OH), and Thom Tillis (NC) had “expressed support/openness for codifying protections for gay marriage.”

Others, like Sen. Marco Rubio, infamously called the bill a “stupid waste of time.”

Last week 47 House Republicans broke ranks and voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, against the specific wishes of House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan.

READ MORE: ‘He’s got time to fight against Disney’: Pete Buttigieg blasts Marco Rubio for opposing marriage equality

“I want to bring this bill to the floor,” Leader Schumer said last week. “And we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”

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