- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2022

Sen. Ron Johnson won’t support the same-sex marriage bill that would enhance protections for LGBT and interracial couples, citing issues with religious liberty.

Mr. Johnson, who previously signaled he was open to supporting such legislation, made a more direct decision while speaking at a public meeting in his home state of Wisconsin last week.

“I said ‘at this point, I don’t see a reason to oppose it’ to get [media] off my back. … I wouldn’t support it in its current state. … I’m not happy with the Baldwins of the world opening that wound,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, and Ms. Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, have been working on getting 10 GOP senators on board for the bill, which they argue reflects the view of the vast majority of Americans.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that a vote on the bill would get to the floor in the coming weeks. 

Mr. Schumer said the votes are not yet there to ensure passage of the bill in the upper chamber.

“We are trying, working real hard to get 10 Republican senators. … We’re not there yet,” Mr. Schumer said.

Republicans have been hesitant to say whether they will support the bill, which was passed with sweeping bipartisan support in the House.

Some lawmakers, however, have been outspoken about their concerns about the bill’s impact on religious liberty, while others have argued that the issue is politicized ahead of the November midterms.

“This bill without religious liberty protection would have massive consequences across our country, weaponizing the Biden administration to go and target universities, K-12 schools, social service organizations, churches, and strip them all of their tax-exempt status,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, on his podcast.

Ms. Baldwin, who is gay, disputed Republicans’ accusation that the push for the bill is political ahead of the November midterms.

“It’s not. It’s very real for a whole lot of people,” she told The Washington Post.

Ms. Collins also dismissed the idea of attaching the legislation to the government funding bill needed to pass this month to avoid a shutdown.

The senator said she believed doing so would deter Republicans even further from supporting the bill.

The legislation passed the House in July with the support of 47 Republicans.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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