Out senator Tammy Baldwin confronted Marco Rubio in an elevator after he said voting on a bill to protect same-sex marriage was a “stupid waste of time”.
Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, commented within hearing distance of Baldwin – the first openly gay politician elected to the US Senate. The Senate will consider a bill to codify same-sex marriage as it could be under threat by the Supreme Court that recently overturned the right to abortion in June.
Baldwin told CNN she explained to Rubio how wrong his remark was while they rode the elevator together.
“You probably would have loved to be on the elevator to see the exchange after,” Baldwin told the CNN journalist.
She continued: “I said that, ‘The recent Supreme Court decision eroded a constitutional right to privacy. There’s a whole bunch of cases that have been decided based on a constitutional right to privacy that are in jeopardy’, which he disagrees with.
“And anyways, I said we’ll be talking some more.”
Baldwin refused to discuss what Rubio’s response was, but she coolly said she was “counting votes” for when the bill eventually lands on the Senate floor. She believed 10 Republicans would join Democrats to overcome a filibuster and pass the protections.
Senator Tammy Baldwin thinks 10 Republicans will join Democrats in passing a bill protecting same-sex marriage when it makes it to the Senate. (Getty/Al Drago-Pool)
The House of Representatives approved the Respect for Marriage Act, which provides statutory protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, with a 267 to 157 vote Tuesday (19 July).
A surprising 47 House Republicans joined all 220 Democrats in moving the bill through the chamber. The act now moves to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future.
The Senate’s filibuster rule allows lawmakers to obstruct or slow down a piece of legislation from passing into law. A bill must reach a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, which has a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats.
The filibuster has thus far prevented the passage of the Equality Act, which would revolutionise LGBTQ+ rights in the US. The landmark legislation passed through the House in February 2021 but has stalled ever since in the Senate.
Some Republicans, like Rubio, argued the Respect for Marriage Act is “unnecessary” because they perceived that there is no “threat” to same-sex marriage.
However, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas suggested in an opinion that the recent Roe v Wade decision could open the opportunity to reconsider “all of this court’s substantive due process precedent”. This included legislation legalising contraceptives, same-sex marriage and other rulings.
Rubio told reporters Friday (22 July) that he didn’t support the Respect for Marriage Act, Fox 13 reported. He said he didn’t think politicians should be “spending time on a non-issue and a non-problem” – citing inflation, gas prices, illegal drugs, illegal immigration and other issues as more pressing concerns.
“This is just not real. It’s a fake problem,” Rubio said. “I don’t vote for fake problems. I don’t vote to solve problems that don’t exist.”
He added: “It’s important for the priorities of the people in Washington to be the priorities of the people that sent us there.”
PinkNews has reached out to Rubio for comment.