Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) on Monday announced he is opposed to federal legislation that would protect the right to same-sex marriage, joining Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in speaking out against a bill passed by the House last week.
Daines, the junior senator for Montana, said in a statement that he believes “marriage is between a man and a woman” and that the push to pass the Respect for Marriage Act is a ploy from Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“I’m opposed to this bill and believe it’s another attempt by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to distract the American people from the inflation crisis, energy crisis and the southern border crisis they’ve created,” Daines said.
His announcement follows a highly publicized spat between Rubio, who last week said the Respect for Marriage Act was a “stupid waste of time,” and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg, the first openly LGBTQ+ Cabinet secretary to be approved by the Senate, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that he wasn’t sure why Republicans would be against codifying same-sex marriage into federal law.
“I don’t understand, because such a majority of House Republicans voted no on our marriage on as recently as Tuesday, hours after I was in a room with a lot of them talking about transportation policy,” the Transportation secretary said, “having what I thought were perfectly normal conversations with many of them on that subject, only for them to go around the corner and say that my marriage doesn’t deserve to continue.”
The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act last week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and the nearly 50-year constitutional right to abortion in June.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said he wanted to reconsider the right to same-sex marriage, which the court established as a constitutional right in 2015. Thomas’s opinion alarmed Democrats and human rights activists.
The Respect for Marriage Act — which would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that federally defined marriage as between a man and a woman — earned the support of 47 House Republicans last week, but chances of similar legislation clearing the evenly divided senate are a toss-up.
The Senate would need at least 10 Republicans to support the legislation in order for it to pass the chamber.
While polls show a broad majority of Americans support the right to same-sex marriage, more hard-line social conservatives view marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Multiple Republican senators told The Hill they had not made their minds up on how they would vote on legislation codifying the right to same-sex marriage.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), however, has spoken out against giving Americans the broad right to same-sex marriage, arguing on his podcast “Verdict with Ted Cruz” earlier this month that the issue should be left to the states.