Baldwin: Senate close on same-sex marriage bill

MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, expects federal same-sex marriage protections to be on the horizon, with an initial vote scheduled in the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill comes in the wake of the Dobbs decision overturning the abortion protections extended in Roe v. Wade, and fears that same-sex marriage could face a similar fate. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in July, but some senators wanted to wait until after the midterms to pass the bill in the other chamber.

“It was clear that a number of our Republican supporters … made it clear that they would not be supportive of an effort to bring it to a vote prior to the midterm elections,” Baldwin said in an interview with News 3 Now.

She did say, however, that her bill has enough support to beat the filibuster in the Senate.

“We expect to have a slim bipartisan majority — 60, 61 votes — in order to get onto the bill,” Baldwin said. “But I actually think you’ll see the strength of support growth throughout the debate.”

“The House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act with a surprising 47 Republican supporters, which sends a strong message that we’ve progressed quite a bit in terms of public support for the freedom to marry,” she added.

The Wisconsin senator made a few changes to the bill in order to get enough Republican support. Her amendment includes religious protections, some of which exist already in federal law. Under the amendment, for example, a church would not be forced to perform gay marriages if it is against their beliefs.

“We were able to tailor an amendment, I call it a clarifying amendment,” Baldwin said. “That brought folks together who want to get to a yes and final passage, but wanted to have some additional clarity on questions.”

The House would have to pass a similar version of the amended bill before it goes to the president’s desk.