Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Democrats’ efforts to codify same-sex marriage

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade, Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been working to pass legislation that upholds protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, is at the helm of getting her Republican colleagues on board. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss those efforts.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    After the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill began work to shore up other rights that could come under scrutiny. Democrats have been working to pass legislation that upholds protections for same-sex and interracial marriage.

    Democratic Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin is leading the effort to get her Republican colleagues on board.

    And she joins me now.

    Senator Baldwin, welcome back to the "NewsHour."

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We are hearing people ask, this is not — same-sex marriage is not something under threat right now, so why is this legislation needed?

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Well, I think it is very much under threat.

    Not only did one of the justices encourage their — his colleagues to revisit the case Obergefell that created marriage equality, but the majority opinion itself really put into question the legal reasoning that resulted in the Loving vs. Virginia case, the contraceptive access cases over time, and, more recently, Obergefell.

    So I know that my constituents who are in marriages after Obergefell made them legal are very worried about the certainty that they can protect their families with the rights and the responsibilities that a marriage certificate confers on them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So what does the landscape look like right now politically, Senator?

    You have got 50 Democrats. We assume they're all on board. Is that right?

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have got five Republicans, it's been reported. So, what, you have got 55 votes? Is that where you are?

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Well, I have had many conversations. And, certainly, I'm working with a team of folks, including the five Republicans who have voiced their support, to reach out and identify others.

    I have some — had conversations where people have given private assurances that they will support it if it comes for a vote, but aren't willing to go public first. So, we just have to make sure that we have the votes, maybe with a comfortable margin even beyond the 10.

    And we also — I have to just mention, as an aside, right now, COVID is the big enemy. We have several of our colleagues who are out with a — with COVID. And we have to have everyone present in order to address this and several other critical issues where the votes will be really tight.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What are some of the arguments, Senator, that Republicans are making to you about why they can't support this? And what do you say — what are you saying back to them to try to persuade them to change their mind?

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Yes.

    So there's several different camps. You have, obviously, the people who are going to support it who are either public or private about that. I keep saying, if you support marriage equality, then you really want to provide the assurance that, should Obergefell be overturned, that we will still be able to recognize marriages using the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    That said, some don't feel like the threat is imminent, and they're saying, we should wait until a further point in time before securing these rights. And I just have to say that providing the certainty is really important. The ability to protect your family through the legal means that accompany marriage is critical to folks.

    And then, lastly, there are people who oppose marriage equality, and even though it is now the law of the land, have voiced that they want to stay consistent with that view, even though Obergefell is currently the law of the land.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Senator, how much difference is it making, do you find, when you speak with senators who may — they're not sure they want to go along with this, but they know someone or they have someone in their family who's involved in either a same-sex marriage or same-sex relationship?

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Yes.

    In my conversations, I feel like that's a very powerful issue. In the years since marriage equality became the law of the land, most of my colleagues probably now have a family member, a loved one, a neighbor, a fellow congregant at their church, somebody they know, a co-worker, staff member who is impacted positively by marriage equality.

    And I think it does really help my colleagues look at this, knowing that they have to face their friends and neighbors after that vote. And so I'm encouraged that we have seen such progress since these questions came before the Congress in the last decades.

    And certainly throughout the American public, the acceptance of marriage equality, the belief that one ought to be able to marry and protect the person they love is now, I would say, almost overwhelmingly supported.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we are certainly watching this as it moves along.

    Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, thank you.

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin:

    Thank you.

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