“If he's got time to fight against Disney, I don't know why he wouldn't have time to safeguard marriages like mine. Look, this is really, really important to a lot of people. It's certainly important to me,” said Buttigieg, who also noted, with regard to the House vote, that, “If they don't want to spend a lot of time on this, they can vote 'yes' and move on, and that would be really reassuring for a lot of families around America, including mine.”
Exactly. Taking a noncontroversial vote—71% of Americans told Gallup they support legal recognition of same-sex marriage—shouldn’t take up a lot of time. Unless Republicans drag it out, that is.
Buttigieg’s comment about Rubio apparently stung, at least enough to Rubio to sit down and make a video attacking Buttigieg as “a Harvard-educated transportation secretary ... who apparently never learned that there’s a difference between the state level and the federal level,” since the Florida Republican fight with Disney was over a state law. But that’s kind of the point: Rubio had time to insert himself, as a federal official, into that particular state-level dispute, but he’s saying he doesn’t want to waste his time on a vote over a federal marriage law.
What Rubio is really saying is not that this is a waste of time. He’s saying that he opposes—as a practical matter—the right of people to marry who they choose. He’s saying this in a context in which one Supreme Court justice has already formally put on the table the overturn of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that in 2015 affirmed the federal right to marriage equality. That’s a pretty direct threat given that the Supreme Court just overturned the nearly 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade. If the court overturns Obergefell, as Justice Clarence Thomas suggested, same-sex marriages would be instantly banned in at least 25 of the 32 states that currently have anti-equality laws on the books.
A CNN canvass of Senate Republicans last week found five—Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Ron Johnson, and Thom Tillis—saying they would or probably would vote for a marriage bill, and eight—Rubio, Bill Cassidy, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Jim Inhofe, and Roger Wicker—saying they would vote against it, with others either not responding or dodging the question.
Democrats need to hold this vote as soon as possible (yes, canceling August recess should be on the table), because they’ve got a widely popular and very important policy that at least a few Republicans are saying they’ll vote for. Taking marriage equality out of the hands of Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh is desperately important. Pinning Republicans down on an issue where the politics are bad for most of them, thanks to the fact that they are out of step with the public, is a very nice bonus for Democrats. Rubio’s defensiveness here speaks volumes. Volume One: Hold the Vote Now.
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