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Ohio's Republican Senator confirms no vote on same-sex marriage bill until after November

 Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) shares thoughts on how the U.S. can help Ukraine on March 16, 2022.
Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) shares thoughts on how the U.S. can help Ukraine on March 16, 2022.

A bill on federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages won’t be voted on in the U.S. Senate until after the November election, though nearly a quarter of all House Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the bill in July.

Ohio’s U.S. Senator Rob Portman is among the Republicans trying to get it passed in the Senate.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal provisions that define marriage in federal law as only between one man and one woman, and would require all states to recognize same-sex marriage at the federal level.

It passed the House in July with all Democrats — including Ohio U.S. House members Joyce Beatty, Shontel Brown, Marcy Kaptur, and Tim Ryan — and 47 Republicans voting for it. Four of those Republicans are from Ohio: Representatives Mike Carey, Anthony Gonzalez, Dave Joyce, and Mike Turner.

Ohio's eight other Republican Congressmen voted against the Respect for Marriage Act: Representatives Troy Balderson, Steve Chabot, Warren Davidson, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Jim Jordan, Bob Latta and Brad Wenstrup.

But Portman said the language is being retooled because of concerns by a Christian legal defense group and hundreds of religious groups that don’t support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Portman, who has supported marriage equality since 2013, is among five Republicans who've said they will vote for the bill: Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Portman said the decision to wait on a vote by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the work by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) shows there’s an effort to get it passed.

“I think we have put together some explicit safeguards on religious liberty and conscious protections that will enable us to get the votes, but I think it will get much more votes after the election," Portman said. "There are some who believe this is a political exercise."

Portman said of Baldwin and Sinema: "I think the confirmation of that is that they both supported putting this off until after the election to take some of the political politics out of it."

Dozens of other religious groups and hundreds of businesses have also signed onto a letter sent last week supporting the Respect for Marriage Act, saying marriage is a “matter of human dignity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges established the right to same-sex marriage. Though the case originated in Ohio with Jim Obergefell — who is now running as a Democrat for the Ohio House — there are bans on same-sex marriage in both state law and the Ohio constitution. However, those state-level laws are not in effect because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.