Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote on legislation to protect same-sex marriage in the coming weeks, forcing Republicans to take a stance ahead of the midterm elections.
“A vote on marriage equality will happen on the Senate floor in the coming weeks,” the Senate majority leader told reporters Wednesday.
Schumer’s announcement comes as Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are working to shore up the 10 GOP votes necessary to pass their bill to codify same-sex marriage. Baldwin and Collins met earlier Wednesday with a bipartisan group of senators who are also backing the bill.
In addition to Collins, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) support the legislation. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has spoken positively of the effort but hasn’t committed to voting for it.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the most vulnerable GOP incumbent, said recently he won’t support the bill in its current form, despite saying earlier this summer he saw “no reason to oppose” it.
Collins and Baldwin are currently working on an amendment that seeks to clarify that the bill wouldn’t affect religious liberty or conscience protections, in an effort to gain more Republican support. Johnson has specifically cited religious freedom concerns when he’s talked about his reservations with the legislation.
“We are listening carefully to the concerns that have been raised by some of our colleagues,” Collins said Wednesday. “And we’re looking at an amendment that would strengthen the language in the bill to make crystal clear that it does not in any way infringe upon religious liberty. And it also would correct a drafting error.”
The Senate push comes after the House passed legislation in July to protect same-sex marriage, with support from 47 House Republicans.
Prior to Schumer’s announcement, some Senate Democrats suggested attaching the same-sex marriage bill to a short-term government funding bill. But Baldwin said Tuesday that she’d prefer a standalone vote, hoping to pass it sooner than the end of the month.