After solidifying their thin majority in the U.S. Senate over the weekend, Democrats in the chamber will look to pass legislation protecting the marriage rights of same-sex couples across the nation, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Monday.
Blumenthal, fresh off his own reelection victory, appeared at the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective with LGBTQ advocates to rally support for the Respect for Marriage Act.
The bill would codify the marriage rights of same-sex couples, a step supporters say is necessary in part due to comments by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who suggested in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that the court should revisit its prior ruling on the matter.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the bill back in June. On Monday, Blumenthal said that Senate Democrats should act on the legislation before the end of this year.
“Put it on the floor. Give us the opportunity to approve the marriage equality act. Its time is now,” Blumenthal said. “The threat to this right is real and urgent as we saw in the Dobbs case, this Supreme Court has put marriage equality on the chopping block and we need to make sure that Americans are secure and certain in same-sex marriage as well as interracial marriage.”
Monday’s press conference follows an unexpectedly bright election week for Democrats. As predicted by public polling, Blumenthal easily won a third term in office in a race against his Republican challenger Leora Levy.
Less expected was his party’s retention of control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats cemented at least their current 50-50 spit in the chamber late Saturday. Although a runoff election in Georgia has the potential to increase their majority, Democrats will still require some support from Republicans in order to reach the 60 vote threshold necessary to advance the marriage bill.
Blumenthal told reporters he was optimistic enough Republicans would choose to support the legislation.
“We are just a few votes away from the 60 that we need and now that we finished the election, I think it is more than possible, it is likely,” Blumenthal said.
He was joined by supporters who urged the Senate to make time for the bill before the end of the year. Those supporters included Beth Kerrigan, who along with her wife, Jody Mock, were the lead plaintiffs in the 2008 case which made Connecticut the third state to legalize same sex marriage.
“Our marriage, like yours, should not be subject to state lines,” Kerrigan said Monday. “We shouldn’t have to fear that when we leave Connecticut to go visit our family for Thanksgiving that we are no longer married. Married couples shouldn’t have to be restricted to the states that they live in to say that their marriage vows matter or don’t.”