Senate Democrats, who will soon bring up a bill to legalize gay marriage, are bashing GOP opponents of the measure as Trump-supporting MAGA extremists.
They’ve doubled down on the line after President Biden called former President Donald Trump and those who support his Make America Great Again agenda “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, used the MAGA label before and revived it to bash Republicans who oppose the gay-marriage bill that the GOP is poised to block in the Senate.
Democrats drafted the measure, which would require all 50 states to recognize same-sex unions, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should also reconsider the precedents set in a variety of cases, including the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriages, saying that they rested on a “demonstrably erroneous” legal theory of “substantive due process.” Justice Thomas’ concurrence allowed the possibility that there were other rationales that might justify the outcomes in those cases, however, such as the “privileges or immunities” clause of the 14th Amendment.
“The MAGA Republicans are taking over the Republican Party and they’ve made it abundantly clear they’re not satisfied with repealing Roe,” Mr. Schumer said. “So when some Republicans say the [gay marriage] vote is unnecessary, it won’t happen, they said the same thing about Roe and here’s where we are.”
Mr. Schumer attacked the GOP with the MAGA label as a small handful of Republican senators tried to shore up support from at least six more GOP lawmakers needed to begin debating the bill.
So far, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio plan to vote for the bill. Several other GOP lawmakers said they have not decided.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate are shrugging off Mr. Schumer’s attacks. They said the gay marriage legislation is merely a messaging bill that Democrats hope will revive their unenthusiastic voters ahead of the midterm election.
The GOP has its base to worry about.
While some Republicans said the 2015 high court decision makes a federal law unnecessary, others said the bill leaves out adequate religious freedom protections and could force churches to conduct gay marriage ceremonies, for example.
“That’s a huge ‘no’ in the state of Alabama,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, said. “I was going around this weekend in the state and this was one of my big questions. And it didn’t get any support whatsoever.”
Even if the measure fails to pass, Mr. Schumer, who controls the Senate floor, will force Republicans to go on the record about gay marriage at a critical time.
Gallup polling in June found a record 71% of Americans back same-sex unions.
Support for gay marriage legislation has grown in the GOP.
When the Democratic-led House passed the gay marriage bill in July, 47 Republicans voted for it, including GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.
Ms. Collins and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat and the first openly gay senator, drafted language to include in the bill that would protect religious liberty to win more GOP support.
Sen. Roger Marshall, Kansas Republican, said the discussions he heard about adding a faith protection clause wouldn’t go far enough for his support.
“I respect gay marriage,” Mr. Marshall said. “It’s on the same footing as marriage between a man and a woman. What they’re describing as religious protection is nowhere close to where I would be comfortable in supporting. But it’s already the law of the land.”