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HomeNewsThe Senate's fight over same-sex marriage may hinge on Wisconsin's senators, who...

The Senate’s fight over same-sex marriage may hinge on Wisconsin’s senators, who don’t agree on much

The Senate push to enshrine federal protections for same-sex marriage has landed Wisconsin’s two senators — liberal Tammy Baldwin, the primary brazenly homosexual senator in historical past, and conservative Ron Johnson, who faces a troublesome re-election bid this fall and has waffled on the difficulty — within the highlight.

There was some extent months in the past when it appeared the 2 — who sometimes shun the media — might agree on one thing else, too, when Johnson left the door open to supporting Baldwin’s same-sex marriage laws.

However since then, what’s been a difficult relationship has grown all of the extra fraught — at the same time as Baldwin stays optimistic that she will be able to in the end get him on board. And interviews with each senators present a pressure.

Requested how she would characterize her relationship with Johnson, Baldwin gave a bare-bones description. “We’re each senators from Wisconsin and there’s issues we have to get accomplished, however in any case — that’s all,” she mentioned as she ended the interview.

Baldwin has been main the legislative effort, teaming with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to strive to make sure that the Supreme Court docket doesn’t roll again the constitutional rights to homosexual and interracial marriage, because it did to abortion rights early this summer time.

The bipartisan duo say they’ve drafted compromise language to deal with considerations from conservatives who’ve warned that the Respect for Marriage Act might infringe on spiritual liberty or enable polygamous marriages. However the modification hasn’t been unveiled but or shared privately with Senate colleagues. 

It’s a giant motive a handful of Republicans like Johnson are unwilling to say the place they stand on the difficulty and why Baldwin and Collins haven’t been in a position to nail down the ten GOP votes they should defeat a promised filibuster.

Baldwin, 60, a former county official, state legislator and U.S. Home member, has indicated that she has secured at the very least 5 GOP votes, together with these from members who’ve publicly said that they help the invoice, like Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio. Portman’s son is brazenly homosexual.

And Baldwin believes a handful of others — together with her Wisconsin seatmate, Johnson, 67 — are gettable.

“We’re nonetheless hoping,” she mentioned. 

The problem has put Johnson, probably the most weak Senate Republican this cycle, in a troublesome spot in his race towards progressive Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the primary Black individual to carry the job. Greater than 70% of Individuals again same-sex marriage, and polls have proven Barnes with a slight lead over Johnson, a Donald Trump ally, although he has the facility of incumbency as he seeks a 3rd six-year time period.

“He’s a shame and doesn’t consider in defending our rights and freedoms. He’s unfit for public workplace,” Barnes tweeted in response to a narrative final week that Johnson had flip-flopped on same-sex marriage.

The problem has additionally highlighted Baldwin and Johnson’s chilly relationship, which has solely grown colder since same-sex marriage got here to the forefront within the Senate.

Johnson, a conservative bomb thrower swept into the Senate within the tea social gathering wave of 2010, has accused Baldwin of “leaking” to The New York Instances a textual content message alternate between the 2 after he initially expressed an openness to supporting her invoice to guard same-sex marriage.

He has since mentioned that he opposes the invoice in its present kind and that the Supreme Court docket case legalizing same-sex marriage was “wrongly determined.” 

“She texted me one time, after which she leaked the textual content to The New York Instances, in order that’s not a great way to cope with a fellow senator,” Johnson mentioned Tuesday. “It’s the primary time anyone’s really leaked my texts. … We’ve been cordial, however once more, I’ve by no means leaked texts between senators. It’s simply the improper factor to do.”

Whereas the laws’s backers haven’t secured the ten votes, Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vows to press ahead on a difficulty that Democrats consider will give them a lift within the coming midterms. If Schumer recordsdata cloture on the invoice Thursday, it will possible arrange a key procedural vote on the invoice early subsequent week on the 60-vote threshold.

Baldwin mentioned it has been “some time” since she spoke to Johnson in regards to the laws. However she mentioned she thinks he could be among the many “sure” votes when the invoice involves the ground. 

“I feel he might be. I feel he could be, given the variety of issues I’ve learn and plenty of the people who find themselves reaching out” to Johnson, Baldwin mentioned within the hallway interview. 

She added that some supporters of the invoice had been “assigned” to succeed in out to Johnson. She wouldn’t identify names: “I’m not going to share that stage of element.”    

Collins mentioned she hadn’t lately spoken with Johnson, both.

Neither Johnson nor Baldwin court docket the media within the halls. The gruff Johnson, who ran a plastic manufacturing enterprise earlier than he arrived within the Senate, has by no means appeared to take pleasure in sparring with reporters like a few of his different GOP colleagues. Baldwin is commonly described as well mannered and soft-spoken, and regardless of her history-making election in 2012, she not often seeks the limelight. 

As of late, nonetheless, reporters have been hounding each in regards to the same-sex marriage difficulty.

“I really hearken to constituents,” Johnson mentioned within the interview. “There are some very reliable considerations about spiritual liberty, and people considerations must be correctly addressed.”

“I feel persons are” engaged on an modification, he mentioned, “but it surely’s received to supply very robust protections.”

Collins, who has been tasked with serving to to spherical up GOP help, mentioned she’s additionally “hopeful” they will get to 10.

“However as I mentioned, you by no means know till the roll is known as.”

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