Pence votes against same-sex marriage bill

WASHINGTON — Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, voted against legislation protecting same-sex marriages and interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

The bipartisan legislation cleared the House in a 258-169 vote Thursday, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk. Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized those marriages nationwide, The Associated Press reported.

Every House Republican representing Indiana voted against the bill except Rep. Trey Holllingsworth, who didn’t cast a vote. The two House Democrats representing Indiana voted in favor of the bill.

Pence did not respond to a request for comment on why he opposed the measure.

The passage of the bill was seen as a monumental step in a decades-long battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes, according to wire reports.

Democrats moved the bill quickly through the House and Senate after the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, according to wire reports. That ruling included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage should also be reconsidered.

While the bill received GOP votes, most Republicans opposed the legislation and some conservative advocacy groups lobbied aggressively against it, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to protect those who want to refuse services for same-sex couples.

The House passed a bill to protect the same-sex unions in July with the support of 47 Republicans, a robust and unexpected show of support that kick-started serious negotiations in the Senate, according to wire reports. Pence also voted against that bill.

After months of talks, the Senate passed the legislation last week with 12 Republican votes, including Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana.

“Since the Obergefell decision in 2015, most Hoosiers consider this issue settled,” Young said in a statement last month after voting in favor of debating the bill. “If the federal government is going to have involvement in the issue of marriage, it’s imperative that freedom of religion is not infringed in any way. After carefully reviewing the revised bill, I’m confident it provides important religious liberty protections Hoosiers want and the Constitution requires.”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, who announced last week plans to run for Indiana governor, voted against the bill. Braun’s staff did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for his opposition.