These 10 House Republicans flipped their votes on the same-sex marriage bill
(The Hill) — The House has sent the Respect for Marriage Act to President Joe Biden’s desk after all Democrats and 39 Republicans in the body voted to support the bill.
The legislation, which passed in a 258-169-1 vote, would officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and require states to recognize interracial and same-sex marriages lawfully performed in other states.
The House initially passed the bill in July before the Senate approved it last week along with amendments to add protections for religious exemptions and to clarify that it does not recognize polygamy. The House then needed to approve the bill as amended, which it did on Thursday.
The bill received some measure of bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, but several Republicans in the lower chamber voted in favor of the bill in July before opposing it on the second vote, while a couple originally opposed it before voting in favor of it.
Here are the 10 House Republicans who flipped their votes on the same-sex marriage bill:
“Yes” to “no”
Rep. Cliff Bentz (Ore.) originally voted for the bill in July before switching to a “no” vote on Thursday. He has not publicly explained his reasoning for switching his vote.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) also switched from voting in favor of the bill to voting against it. He said in a statement on Monday that he planned to oppose the legislation because it lacked “legitimate safeguards” for faith-based organizations that object to the law based on their religious beliefs.
“The concept of all states respecting other states’ decisions on marriage laws is deeply rooted in American jurisprudence and tradition,” he said. “Similarly, our Founders understood that religious liberties are sacred and vulnerable, and must always be vigorously protected.”
Rep. Brian Mast (Fla.) also took issue with the most recent version of the bill over concerns about protections for religious freedom. He said on the House floor before the vote that changes should be made to the text to protect the “free exercise thereof,” referring to a clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution protecting freedom of religion.
He also criticized comments from Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), who said that amending the bill further would “unsettle the Senate’s carefully crafted compromise.”
Rep. Dan Meuser (Pa.) said in a statement on Twitter that the bill “goes beyond marriage” and weakens religious freedoms “fundamental to our nation,” and that he voted against it Thursday for that reason. He said the Senate’s version of the bill includes language that puts religious freedom in jeopardy and opens organizations up to civil lawsuits, unlike the House’s version.
“Therefore, I cannot support the Senate Amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act because it jeopardizes the basic religious liberties of every American,” he said.
Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.) indicated that his initial vote in favor of the bill was a mistake based on a lack of time he had to review it. Axios reported that Perry said the bill was rushed to the floor and he had just gotten to the floor as the vote was happening.
“I knew I had a choice between voting against traditional marriage or voting against interracial marriage,” he said.
“I just made the wrong choice,” he added.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.) said in a statement after the vote that she was disappointed the final version of the bill did not include “full protections” for churches and Americans with “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
She said Senate Republicans were prevented from including “vital protections” for religious Americans in the bill. She said she voted for the first version because she believes in “human dignity” and respect for all, but laws that advance one interest and ignore legal protections for others should not be passed.
Jeff Van Drew
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) initially voted for the bill but also cited concerns about religious freedom protections. He told Axios that he “absolutely” heard from many constituents who were upset with the bill and he found them persuasive.
“No” to “yes”
Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wis.) was one of the two Republicans who initially voted against the bill before later backing it.
He told The Hill in a statement that a religious liberty amendment and a clarification that the bill does not permit polygamy that the Senate added led him to vote in favor of the bill the second time.
“The Respect for Marriage Act fixes the polygamy loophole in Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s hastily written version and creates strong religious liberty protections for religious organizations, including schools, churches, and adoption agencies,” he said.
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) also flipped from opposing the bill in July to supporting it Thursday but has not publicly shared her reasoning. She will be leaving Congress at the end of the term next month.
“Yes” to “present”
Rep. Burgess Owens (Utah) initially voted in favor of the bill but was the only House member to vote “present” on Thursday.
“While today is undoubtedly a giant step toward religious liberty, my lone ‘present’ vote signals a warning beacon that the war is far from won,” he tweeted.
He said religious freedom cannot prevail unless individuals and small business owners have explicit protection under the law. He added that protecting churches and religious organizations is only “scratching the surface” of the scope of First Amendment rights.
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