By Moira Warburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twelve Republican U.S. senators joined Democrats this week in voting to codify same-sex marriage in the United States, a bill advocates said was necessary to ensure the Supreme Court does not overturn its earlier decision protecting it.
Here is what they said about supporting the Respect for Marriage Act, which some social conservatives object to:
SUSAN COLLINS, MAINE
Collins is one of the most moderate Senate Republicans. She said in a statement she was “proud” to be a lead sponsor of the bill, adding that it would ensure marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples and strengthen religious liberty and conscience protections.
ROB PORTMAN, OHIO
Portman, who is retiring at the end of the year, was a top negotiator on the bill. He has been a vocal supporter of gay marriage since 2013, two years after his son came out as gay. “It’s a change of heart from the position of a father,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer at the time.
THOM TILLIS, NORTH CAROLINA
“When people first saw me get involved, they were scratching their heads,” Tillis, another key Republican negotiator, told Politico on Tuesday, adding that his support was due to his “libertarian side.”
MITT ROMNEY, UTAH
Romney, a Mormon who believes in marriage between a man and a woman, agreed to support the legislation after he was satisfied that it would respect religious freedom. “This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally,” he said in a statement.
LISA MURKOWSKI, ALASKA
Murkowski, a moderate Senate Republican, was the third Republican senator in 2013 to come out in support of same-sex marriage. The law should recognize marriage based on “love between two persons,” she said ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
DAN SULLIVAN, ALASKA
Sullivan said he disagreed with the 2015 Supreme Court decision that established the national right to same-sex marriage. “I said then I would respect the court’s decision and also continue to fight for, respect, and defend the religious liberty of all Americans,” he said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the bill “is much more about promoting and expanding religious liberty protections than same-sex marriage.”
CYNTHIA LUMMIS, WYOMING
Although she also believes in “traditional” marriage, Lummis said she believed the separation of church and state was more important than individual religious opinions. Lummis described her vote as “a painful exercise in admonishment and fairly brutal soul-searching.”
TODD YOUNG, INDIANA
Young wrote in an op-ed in the Indy Star that the bill “will bring the United States government closer to treating both groups (LGBT and heterosexual people) with dignity and respect than we ever have in our history,” adding that he would not have supported the bill if it endangered religious freedoms.
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, WEST VIRGINIA
The bill “does not lessen the traditional sanctity of marriage or jeopardize the freedom of religious institutions,” Capito said in a statement.
JONI ERNST, IOWA
In a statement to the Des Moines Register, Ernst said, “This bill protects religious freedoms and will simply maintain the status quo in Iowa.” She told Politico that although she believes “in traditional marriage,” her stance evolved with growing popular support for same-sex marriage.
ROY BLUNT, MISSOURI
Blunt resisted significant opposition, including Missouri’s secretary of state calling on him to oppose the bill. “It’s better for the Congress to speak on this issue, than to let the courts and various federal entities decide … to minimize religious freedom,” the retiring senator told the Kansas City Star.
RICHARD BURR, NORTH CAROLINA
Burr, who retires at the end of December, does not appear to have publicly commented on his support for the legislation.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)