Missouri U.S. Senate Candidate Votes Against Gay Marriage Protections

The Respect for Marriage Act received mixed reaction among Missouri's Congressional leaders

click to enlarge Photo from the Pride Together Again event in St. Louis earlier this year. - Theo Welling
Theo Welling
Photo from the Pride Together Again event in St. Louis earlier this year.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a 175-word bill that would create federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.

The bill passed the house with significant bipartisan support. All 220 Democrats and 47 Republicans voted in favor of the bill with 157 Republicans voting against. Seven members of the GOP abstained.

However, if it had been up to only Missouri's federal legislators, the bill would have suffered a narrow defeat. Four of Missouri's representatives voted against the bill, three for it and one abstained.

Sam Graves (R-Tariko), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth), Jason Smith (R-Salem) and Billy Long (R-Springfield) all voted against the bill. Long is a candidate for U.S. Senate.

The state's two Democrats in the House of Representatives, Cori Bush (D-St.Louis) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Kansas City), voted in favor of the bill.  So did Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin). Of all the incumbents, Wagner is expected to have the toughest race for reelection November, though she is expected to hold her seat.

Another Republican, Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville), who is running for U.S. Senate, abstained.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future. Ten Republicans would have to join with the Democrats in order for the bill to end up on President Joe Biden's desk.

Republicans who oppose the bill call it unnecessary.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, the Respect for Marriage Act would repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. That law recognized marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

The push to codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages took on new importance in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In that case's majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” which alarmed some legal experts because the Constitution does not explicitly confer many of the rights currently enjoyed by Americans, including the right to same-sex marriage.

In a concurring opinion in that case, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court "should reconsider" previous rulings based upon the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from infringing upon citizen's "life, liberty, or property without the due process of law."

He went on in his opinion to call previous decisions by the court based on the due process clause, which would include the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, as "demonstrably erroneous."

Recent Gallup surveys have found that almost three quarters of Americans support same-sex marriage. Interracial marriage has 94 percent approval, accord to Gallup.