For the uninitiated or forgetful out there, a fuck yeah headline is usually reserved for progress on the LGBTQ rights front. It’s been a while but we’re able to use it again because of this:
The Senate passed landmark legislation on Tuesday to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages, as a lame-duck Congress mustered a notable moment of bipartisanship before Democrats were to lose their unified control of Capitol Hill.
The 61-to-36 vote put the bill on track to become law in the final weeks before Republicans assume the majority in the House of Representatives at the start of the new Congress in January. It marked one of the final major legislative achievements for Democrats before Republicans shift the focus in the House to conducting investigations of President Biden’s administration and family members.
The credit for this momentous achievement goes to Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin who is one of the few gay members of Congress. I refuse to say “openly” because it’s an expression that’s past its sell-by-date.
Senator Baldwin painstakingly assembled a coalition that included a dozen Republican senators. Like your humble blogger, Baldwin is a member of the get shit done wing of the Democratic party. She took some heat for deferring the vote until after the election, but she wanted a bill not just an issue.
Here’s an excerpt from a swell WaPo news analysis piece by Liz Goodwin:
In July, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) spotted some of her Republican colleagues on the Senate floor and rushed over to tell them the good news. Forty-seven House Republicans had just voted in favor of protecting same-sex marriage rights for gay couples, following the Supreme Court’s decision reversing Roe v Wade that raised fears the court could overturn same-sex marriage next.
“We could do this,” she recalled saying excitedly to Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), whom Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator, had worked with before in other discussions on protecting LGBTQ rights. Portman, who was the first in his caucus to endorse same-sex marriage back in 2013 and whose son is gay, said he initially felt less optimistic, aware of just how many of his colleagues had “strongly held views” on the issue.
The discussion set off months of negotiations by a bipartisan group of five senators with their Republican colleagues, LGBTQ rights groups and religious organizations, which resulted in Tuesday’s historic Senate vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and guarantee protections for same-sex married couples as well as interracial couples if the Supreme Court were to ever reverse its decisions protecting them.
It was not long ago that gay rights were the third rail of American politics. We’ve been rewatching the West Wing. Team Bartlett was pro-gay rights, but they played duck and cover on the issue. Things have progressed so far that the Mormon church supported the bill. I am not making this up.
The Sinematic Senator was actually a constructive player on this bill:
“Baldwin ran point on the LGBT advocacy groups, and Collins dealt with the coalition of religious groups while the senators worked to amend the bill to explicitly state that the legislation did not infringe on religious liberty. Sinema, who grew up Mormon and is close with key swing vote and Mormon Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), was the chief negotiator with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to Collins, and stressed the importance of bringing the “elders” on board the process.
“My goal when working to find bipartisan consensus is to listen first and foremost to what someone needs and hear what that person needs and then I try to figure out — ‘Is this something I can do? Can I give this person whatever they need?’” said Sinema, who is the first openly bisexual member of the Senate. “Whether it’s specific language or answering questions.”
There’s the O word again.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever praised the senior senator from Arizona before. Her outfit yesterday, however, shows that the rebellious teenybopper spirit of Veda Pierce Sinema has NOT left the building:
I usually don’t comment on how women pols dress, but that sparkly skirt was jarring in contrast to the solemn attire of Senators Collins. Baldwin, and Portman. It’s actually kind of cool since it brings a splash of color.
What would Mildred Pierce say about Veda’s outfit? Mama Mildred always looked good in a suit with shoulder pads, so probably a thumbs down.
The Respect for Marriage Act was inspired by dicta from Mr. Ginni Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs:
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”
Thomas omitted interracial marriage from his hit list for selfish reasons, but it too was decided under the SDP rubric, so it was included in the bill. The legendary Loving case is safe. Cue tribute music:
Senator Baldwin deserves high praise for the intelligent and sensitive way in which she assembled this coalition. Fuck yeah, Tammy.
The bill will go back to the House where it’s expected to pass, then be signed into law by President Biden. Fuck yeah, Joey Shark.
The last word goes to the 5th Dimension. What’s not to love about the lead vocal by the marvelous Marilyn McCoo?