Wyoming Senator Lummis Votes for Gay Marriage Bill, Barrasso Votes Against
On Tuesday, Wyoming's two senators gave opposing votes on the Respect for Marriage Act, with Cynthia Lummis voting for it and John Barrasso voting against it.
The bill would officially make same-sex and interracial marriage legal and would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which after being passed in 1996 made same-sex marriage illegal.
After passing the Senate 61 to 36, it will have to go back to the House of Representatives due to changes made during its passage in the Senate before it can go to President Joe Biden's desk for a signature.
It had previously passed the House 267 to 157.
While the DOMA was made unconstitutional by Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, because of statements made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, lawmakers were concerned that Obergefell would be overturned.
During the debate on the bill, Lummis took to the floor to talk about why she supports the bill even though she believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
"My days since the first cloture vote on the Respect for Marriage Act as amended have involved a painful exercise in accepting admonishment and fairly brutal self-soul searching," Lummis said. "Entirely avoidable I might add had I simply chosen to vote no. The Bible teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. I accept God's word...So why have I strayed with such anguish from a path that conforms to my beliefs, my instruction, my faith, to vote for the Respect for Marriage Act? The answer to that question lies in our history. In how we got here as a nation and as a people and in where we are as a nation and as a people today. In the 1600s, colonizers Roger Williams of Rhode Island and William Penn of Pennsylvania, cited scripture, and the Protestant reformers to defer to God as the judge of consciousness. Williams referred to religious liberty as liberty of the soul. The charter of the colony of Rhode Island required religious tolerance that all may freely have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences in matters of religious concernments. George Whitefield's groundbreaking message, without which this United States would have never come into being, emphasized an individual's personal relationship with God, where previously the individual deferred to the church. These became foundational for our current American approach to the relationship between church and state."
Wyoming state statute still defines marriage as between a male and a female person, but that is superseded by federal statute.
Lummis said that it is important to pass a bill like this because of the amount of intolerance that currently exists in the country.
"These are turbulent times for our nation. Americans address each other in more crude and cruel terms than ever in my lifetime. It is jarring and unbecoming of us as human beings," Lummis said. "It is highly intolerant and frequently the most so when expressed by those that advocate for tolerance. Many of us ask ourselves, our nation is so divided, when will this end, and how will it end? Just as when our nation was founded, when the new world tore itself from the old, people of diverse faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds had to come to terms with each other. Had to tolerate the seemingly intolerable about each other's views. And had to respect each other's rights, even before the constitution enumerated those rights. They had to tolerate each other in order to survive as a nation. Somehow, most certainly with divine guidance, they did. For the sake of our nation today and its survival, we do well by taking this step. Not by embracing or invalidating our devoutly held views, but by the simple act of tolerating them."
Lummis spoke after the passage of the bill to highlight section two of the bill, which she helped add, which states in part "Diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises. Therefore, Congress affirms that such people and their diverse beliefs are due proper respect."
While Barrasso didn't make a statement on the Senate floor about the act, Gaby Hurt, Press Secretary for Barrasso's office, said in an email:
"Senator Barrasso believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s the way he voted in the Wyoming State Senate and that’s where he stands today."