WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled Wednesday that he wants to bring a bill protecting same-sex marriage to the Senate floor after it passed the House this week — but first he needs to ensure it can get enough Republican support to pass.
Schumer said that Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly LGBTQ senator, is talking to Republicans to determine whether at least 10 of them will support the bill in order to overcome the Senate's 60-vote filibuster hurdle.
The House passed the legislation Tuesday in a 267-157 vote, with 47 Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation. The measure would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, enshrine legal same-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law and add legal protections for married couples of the same sex.
Democrats are pushing the legislation after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion in the court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade last month, called for the reversal of its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, as well as another landmark decision legalizing contraception. The House plans to take up a bill to protect access to contraception as well later this week.
Schumer said on the floor Wednesday that he was "really impressed" by how many Republicans supported the same-sex marriage bill in the House.
"I want to bring this bill to the floor, and we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass," he said.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, will co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate, his spokesperson told NBC News on Wednesday morning, adding that Portman evaluated the legislation Tuesday night and made his decision.
That makes him the second Republican, along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, to officially sign on to the bill. Portman expressed support for legalizing same-sex marriage in 2013 after his son told him that he’s gay.
But there may be more: Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told reporters he is "looking at the bill" and "probably will" vote for it if it comes up in the Senate.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also kept the door open to supporting it.
Murkowski said that not only does she support upholding past Supreme Court rulings that protected abortion rights and contraception access, "I’ve also made clear my support for, for gay marriage years ago. So I will look at what the House is doing, and see what that might mean here on the Senate side."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined Tuesday to say if he’ll support the Respect for Marriage Act. "I’m going to delay announcing anything on that issue until we see what the majority leader wants to put on the floor," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, some GOP senators, including Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Ted Cruz of Texas, told NBC News that they would not support the legislation. Other senators, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, declined to comment on the bills before reviewing the text. When pressed if they personally believe these rights should be codified, some reiterated that they need to see the legislation.
Same-sex marriage became legal in 2015 as the result of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, while the court ruled in favor of protecting access to contraception nationwide in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.
Several Republicans brushed off Thomas’ opinion opening the door to overturning those decisions, telling NBC News that gay marriage is protected by the Supreme Court and that they don’t believe that right is currently under threat.
"I don’t think we need to have it. I don’t think there’s anything suggesting that there is a threat to that." Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., told NBC News.