WILTON MANORS, Fla. – Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans, explained their decision to side with the majority of their GOP colleagues in voting against the Respect for Marriage Act, which ultimately passed the Senate with support from Democrats and some Republicans.
The bill is designed to protect same-sex marriages in the wake of this year’s Supreme Court decision overturning federal abortion rights under Roe v. Wade, returning abortion law to the states. Some fear that the court’s decision to strike down the precedent puts marriage equality at similar risk.
Under the bill, states wouldn’t be obligated to perform same-sex marriages if Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court decision ruling that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry, were to be struck down.
But it would require states to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states.
It also allows for protections for religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
“Yesterday’s decision was enormous,” Orlando Gonzales, the executive director of South Florida-based LGBTQ group SAVE, said. “You have seen a change in attitude about the American public being more favorable and more accepting of same-sex marriage.”
Scott, despite voting against the bill, said in a statement to Local 10 News that he fully supports the gay community and will aggressively fight any attempt to take away the ability for same-sex couples to marry.
But, he said the bill doesn’t balance freedom to marry with religious freedom.
“Unfortunately, this bill did not adequately protect the religious liberties of all Americans, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and Democrats rejected critical amendments proposed to both codify protections for same-sex marriage into law AND maintain ironclad protections for religious liberty,” Scott said.
Rubio said he fears that “(r)eligious organizations, including orphanages, women’s shelters, and schools, would likely be subject to crippling lawsuits if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act becomes law.”
Gonzales said he wasn’t surprised by their decisions to vote against the bill.
“I don’t expect them to be supportive of the community,” he said. “They never have been and they probably never will (be).”
Gonalzes said today’s Republican Party is rewarding politicians who take hard-line positions against the gay community.
“At the very primal level is bigotry,” Gonzales said.
The bill now makes its to the House of Representatives, where it will likely pass.
President Joe Biden says he will sign it.