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The path to winning marriage in 50 states in five years

One expert says HRC’s goal ‘completely unrealistic’

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Jeff Zarillo, Paul Katami, Sandy Stier, Kris Perry, David Boies, Chad Griffin, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Prop 8, California, Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade
Jeff Zarillo, Paul Katami, Sandy Stier, Kris Perry, David Boies, Chad Griffin, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Prop 8, California, Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

Following the Supreme Court rulings, advocates are making plans to achieve marriage equality throughout the country. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key).

Amid celebration over the Supreme Court rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, plans are already in place to extend the victories further as the Human Rights Campaign has pledged to win marriage equality in all 50 states within five years.

Following the announcement of that goal, which was made by HRC President Chad Griffin on the steps of the Supreme Court immediately after the decisions, state advocates as well as other national groups are engaged in plans to bring marriage equality to the 37 states where gay couples are still unable to wed.

Speaking with the Washington Blade at the court after he made the pledge, Griffin said achieving that goal would involve a combination of several routes, including additional litigation.

“It will take legislative work, it will take ballot work, it will take Congress and it will ultimately take the federal courts again to bring full equality to every single corner of this country,” Griffin said. “But there is no ground we will leave unturned. Today we will fight aggressively on all fronts in all states.”

Griffin said he’s basing the timeline for his plan on the length of time it took to overturn Prop 8, which took five years from the time Prop 8 passed at the ballot in 2008.

There are already new lawsuits in the works in the wake of the rulings that struck down DOMA, the anti-gay law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and Prop 8. Although many hoped the latter case would be the one to bring marriage equality to all 50 states, the ruling instead that came down was limited in scope to California.

Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, told the Blade his group is planning new lawsuits to advance marriage equality, but isn’t yet ready to talk details.

“We do have plans to file additional marriage cases in federal court, and are preparing those now,” Davidson said. “We are not in a position to share which states at the moment.”

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, David Boies, one half of the legal dream team hired by the American Foundation for Equal Rights that successfully led the lawsuit against Prop 8, said, “there isn’t any state we’re giving up on” and suggested new litigation is coming.

“Our goal is to have marriage equality that’s guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, enforced in every single state in the union,” Boies said.

But Davidson also cautioned gay couples against filing additional lawsuits because of the time and cost involved as well as whether the litigation is strategically appropriate.

“The Perry case, for example, cost each side several million dollars to litigate,” Davidson said. “Often, numerous expert witnesses are required. And, if brought in the wrong place, at the wrong time or without adequate preparation, suits can set back our community’s progress by creating bad precedent that could create barriers to equality nationwide.”

Some are skeptical about HRC’s timetable. Among them is Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, who said meeting that goal is “completely unrealistic.”

“I cannot imagine same-sex marriage passing in my lifetime (plus a couple decades or more) in many southern and border states, plus some of the Rocky Mountain and Midwest states,” Sabato said. “Any state with a decent-sized GOP majority in at least one state legislative house will be enough to kill the effort. Only a handful of states have the citizen-sponsored ballot initiative option.”

Sabato said another lawsuit akin to the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia would be the best route to achieve nationwide marriage equality — but seeing that come to fruition in five years is doubtful.

“That is a completely unrealistic schedule, given the obstacles in the states,” Sabato said. “And I doubt the Supreme Court will take up another major marriage case that quickly.”

Meanwhile, several lawsuits are already pending that have the potential to not only extend marriage equality in certain states, but advance to the Supreme Court for an ultimate resolution extending same-sex marriage nationwide.

The most high-profile among them is the challenge to Nevada’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Sevcik v. Sandova, which was filed by Lambda Legal and is pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That case is on a parallel track with Jackson v. Abercombie, a challenge to Hawaii’s ban on same-sex marriage that was filed by private attorneys.

Judges placed a stay on the cases as the more advanced DOMA and Prop 8 cases were proceeding through the judiciary, but that stay is slated to expire on July 18.

Davidson had an ambitious outlook for the timeline for the Nevada case and said it’s teed up to potentially be the next to reach the Supreme Court.

“We will be filing our appellate brief with the Ninth Circuit in September,” Davidson said. “We expect to argue the case to that appellate court sometime in 2014 and possibly have that case in front of the Supreme Court in 2015.”

Also, as Buzzfeed reported, a U.S. district court in Michigan ruled on Monday to let a federal challenge to the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage proceed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision against DOMA. That challenge will be interesting to watch because the Sixth Circuit has a reputation for being a conservative court.

Eyes on legislation in Illinois, New Jersey

But the best prospects for advancing marriage equality remain in the legislative arena as advocates in two states — Illinois and New Jersey — work to muster enough votes to pass bills that would legalize gay nuptials.

In Illinois, supporters of same-sex marriage are hoping the extension of the legislative session to Aug. 31 will permit them enough time to build support after gay State Rep. Greg Harris didn’t bring the bill to a vote because he didn’t think the measure had enough support.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, told the Blade he’s hoping the extension of the House session will provide enough time for a successful vote on the bill sometime this fall.

“The bill has been granted an extension in the House through Aug. 31, with the possibility of further extensions, if needed,” Cherkasov said. “We hope that the bill will pass the full House vote during the ‘veto session’ which is scheduled to take place this fall.”

In New Jersey, lawmakers are working to build support to override Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of marriage equality legislation in the wake of his comments calling the Supreme Court’s decision against DOMA “incredibly insulting” and “another example of judicial supremacy.”

Calling Christie’s remarks “insulting,” State Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate challenging Christie in the upcoming election, told the Washington Blade on Friday she thinks the override is just a few votes short in the Senate.

“This governor has to release the Republicans in the Senate and the Assembly,” Buono said. “I think that we could easily get an override if he would release them. These are people who live in fear of retribution and retaliation of this governor. If the governor would release them, we would have an override easily in the Senate; all we need are three votes.”

But should the override be unsuccessful, Buono said she’ll make marriage equality in New Jersey a campaign issue and pledge to make a marriage equality bill the first one that she signs if elected.

In both Illinois and New Jersey, litigation is pending before state courts to advance marriage equality should legislative efforts fail. Another Lambda lawsuit, Darby v. Orr, is pending before the Circuit Court of Cook County. In New Jersey, Lambda is expected to file on Wednesday a motion for summary judgment in its state case, Garden State Equality v. Dow, which also includes a federal equal protection claim.

Yet another lawsuit in New Mexico state court pursuing marriage equality was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The case, which  is pending before Albuquerque’s district court, was filed after city officials in Santa Fe issued guidance saying the state already has marriage equality because the statute governing marriage in the state is gender neutral. In response, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said the statute is “vulnerable to challenge.”

Oregon activists seek 2014 ballot initiative

Ballot initiatives are also expected to advance marriage equality in more states as the nation prepares for mid-term elections. The foremost among those is the planned ballot initiative in Oregon to win marriage equality in the state in 2014.

Peter Zuckerman, media manager for Basic Rights Oregon, said the official date to start the necessary 116,284 signatures to place the initiative on the ballot is happening later this month.

“On July 20 we launch the campaign to collect the 116,284 signatures, which is the next step to qualify for the ballot,” Zuckerman said. “If all goes as planned, Oregonians will vote for the freedom to marry in November 2014.”

If Oregon LGBT activists win at the ballot, their efforts would institute marriage equality by reversing a state constitutional amendment that Oregon voters approved in 2004.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, the state assembly in May approved an amendment that would undo the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The process to ratify amendments in the state requires the measure to pass in two consecutive state legislatures and at the ballot during the next election.

To assist in repealing these bans and other barriers to marriage equality, the ACLU announced last week it hired Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, a supporter of marriage equality who signed the friend-of-the-court brief against Prop 8, and former GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia as part of a nationwide campaign. The ACLU has pledged to spend $10 million through 2016 as part of this effort.

LaSalvia told the Blade many states are conservative leaning, which will require supporters of marriage equality to undertake an extra effort to work with conservatives to achieve success.

“Conservatives know that marriage is a good thing, and we should encourage, protect, and promote it for everyone  including gay people,” LaSalvia said. “I am looking forward to working with the ACLU to make that case, state by state, to build consensus through the political process to legalize civil marriage for gay couples.”

Plans in other states are also underway to extend marriage equality in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions last week.

• Arizona — The new group Equal Marriage Arizona is seeking to collect 400,000 signatures to place an amendment on the 2014 ballot reversing the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that voters put in place in 2008.

• Pennsylvania — Last week, gay State Rep. Brian Sims announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would institute marriage equality and has begun to seek additional co-sponsors for the measure. Passing the bill will be difficult because Republicans control the governor’s mansion and the Senate in Pennsylvania.

• Colorado — In the state where Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) recently signed into law a measure to legalize civil unions, efforts are underway to extend full marriage equality. Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, who’s gay, said statewide LGBT rights groups are building a coalition to repeal the ban on same-sex marriage and expecting a ballot initiative before the end of the decade.

• Ohio — National LGBT groups and local activists held a meeting last month to discuss bringing an initiative to the ballot to reverse the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. One group, Freedom Ohio, said the plan is to take the initiative to the ballot in 2014, although the groups insisted a firm date hasn’t yet been set.

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Rep. Pocan introduces legislation to create nat’l LGBTQ history museum

Bills seek answer on including site as part of Smithsonian

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Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation seeking to create an LGBTQ history museum. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has introduced legislation that would set up the process to create a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History & Culture, potentially as an official site within the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Pocan, one of nine openly gay members of the U.S. House and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said in a statement Thursday the measures would preserve LGBTQ history “as our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history.” The pair of bills is H.R.9070 and H.R.9071.

“It is vital to remember our collective past – particularly when certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth and our community at large,” Pocan said. “Let’s tell these stories, and honor the many contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to this nation with a museum in Washington, D.C.”

The first bill, according to a news statement, would creates an eight-member commission of individuals with expertise in museum planning or LGBTQ+ research and culture “to look into the viability of establishing such a facility in the nation’s Capital.”

Among other things, the commission would be charged with recommending a plan on action for museum, including fundraising for the museum, and submitting to Congress a plan for construction of the museum, the statement says.

The bill would also instruct the commission to address whether the museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution, based in the nation’s capital and the world’s largest museum and research complex, per the news statement. The full study, the statement says, would have to be completed in 18 months.

If the Smithsonian were to adopt the a museum on LGBTQ history and culture, it would be similar to other museums under its jurisdiction focused on minority populations in the United States, including the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

The second bill, according to a news statement, would be eligible for consideration by Congress after the commission completes its work and issues its recommendations and allow for formal creation of the museum. More than 50 lawmakers, including all nine openly gay members of the U.S. House, co-sponsor the legislation.

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Analysis: Nevada Democratic senator faces attacks on LGBTQ record that defy logic

Masto criticized for defending marriage ban, but GOP opponent Laxalt agreed with her

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From left, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) and former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. (Photos public domain)

The race for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada — which may decide control of that chamber of Congress in the upcoming election — is coming down to the wire as polls shows a tight race between Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and the Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. If Republicans get their way, it will have everything to do with Cortez Masto’s defending her state’s ban on same-sex marriage as Nevada attorney general — and nothing at all to do with the long record against LGBTQ rights of her Republican opponent.

Cortez Masto, as Republicans want you to remember, made the decision in 2014 as Nevada attorney general initially to defend her state’s ban on same-sex marriage against a legal challenge in court. It was after the Supreme Court’s ruling against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, which prompted a wave of litigation throughout the country against state bans on same-sex marriage as legal advocates saw a new opportunity to overturn them under the new precedent.

Some other attorneys general at the time came to a different conclusion and determined they didn’t need to defend their state bans in court, making legal conclusions the laws were unconstitutional and thus indefensible. Cortez Masto also had some choice words in her initial legal brief comparing the ban on same-sex marriage to bigamy and incest, which Republicans are now able to pounce on largely thanks to the Washington Blade’s original reporting at the time drawing attention to the language in the brief.

Matt Wolking, vice president of Axiom Strategies, is among the Republican political strategists invoking Cortez Masto’s defense of the marriage ban, rebuking her on Twitter on the basis she opposes gay rights — all while promoting her GOP opponent despite a column he wrote in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s gay ban.

“Laxalt served in our military. Catherine Cortez Masto did not,” Wolking tweeted. “She’s been in government her whole life. 4 years after Laxalt’s column & 3 years after DADT was repealed, Masto defended Nevada’s ban on gay marriage, comparing it to bigamy and incest.”

But what Republicans aren’t telling voters is that Cortez Masto’s legal position on her state’s ban on same-sex marriage didn’t last long. After issuing a statement the next day signaling she was reconsidering her defense of the law, she later announced after the review she would reverse her position and join legal advocates in seeking to overturn the law.

In 2022, Republican efforts to draw attention to Cortez Masto’s record is the latest indication that the issue of same-sex marriage, which years ago was an unpopular idea that sent Democrats running for the hills, has been turned on its head in terms of its political implications. For example, Democrats in the House just this year were eager to bring the floor legislation seeking to codify same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Support for same-sex marriage is so high that one-fourth of the Republican caucus went along with them.

The Nevada race, however, takes public support for same-sex marriage to a whole new level. Now, Republicans are criticizing a Democratic incumbent up for re-election for defending the ban on same-sex marriage and her choice of words in an initial legal brief when Republicans have largely been responsible for enacting the bans in the first place. The latest Republican Party platform from 2016 continues the party’s position in favor of a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage form coast-to-coast.

As such, it would be hard for Republicans to assert they are bringing up Cortez Masto’s record out of a genuine concern for same-sex marriage and not simply as a political ploy to disaffect Democrats and suburban women, whose turnout would be necessary for Democrats to retain control of Congress in a mid-term election with a Democratic president.

Consider the alternative: Laxalt is a conservative who is notorious for having an anti-LGBTQ record. Take, for example, the aforementioned op-ed Laxalt wrote for the National Review in 2010 in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when repeal of the ban on openly gay service members was being considered in Congress.

Changing the law, Laxalt wrote, would make “fighting wars harder” on the basis that men “love to have sex” and the military “cannot tolerate the tensions that surround sexual relationships or potential ones” that would come with openly gay service members.

“To those who currently tolerate homosexuals but retain their God‐given right to reject homosexuality as a practiced lifestyle — could you do the above as a leader?” Laxalt wrote. “Even for your country? It is one thing for the military to ask its members to accept
homosexuals, but another for the military to ask its members to accept and live with
homosexuality, the homosexual lifestyle.”

That’s just one part of Laxalt’s longer record, which includes signing a legal brief in favor of allowing a Washington florist to refuse wedding services to same-sex couples based on religious objections and dubbing as “coercive” the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

The real kicker: Laxalt himself said when running for the position of Nevada attorney general he would defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. During a 2014 interview with the Las Vegas Sentinel, Laxalt emphatically made the case the role of attorney general is to defend state law on the marriage ban.

“As attorney general of Nevada, I would follow and uphold the law as passed by the people of Nevada through our constitutional process, and I would vigorously defend that law when challenged,” Laxalt said.

Unlike Cortez Masto, there’s nothing in the public record suggesting that Laxalt ever changed his position on same-sex marriage or otherwise embraced LGBTQ rights (save for accepting the endorsement from Log Cabin Republicans and strong support from Richard Grenell). Meanwhile, Cortez Masto has sponsored the Equality Act, legislation that would expand protections against LGBTQ discrimination under civil rights law, and is now a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which supporters say will come up for a vote in lame duck after the election.

If, at the end of the day, Nevada voters decide to oust Cortez Masto and replace her with Laxalt, they would be replacing a supporter of LGBTQ rights measures before Congress with a voice stridently against them. One wonders if Republicans criticizing Cortez Masto for her short-lived defense of her state’s ban will come back to criticize Laxalt for voting “no” on those measures based on their newfound standards for political candidates.

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In first, gay Democrat and gay Republican face off in congressional race

GOP candidate was present at Stop the Steal rally

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Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic candidate, (left) is taking on George Santos, a Republican (right) in New York's 3rd congressional district.

The race in New York’s 3rd congressional district is seen as critical in the mid-term elections as Republicans are poised to retake the House and Democrats are trying to preserve their razor-thin majority. But the New York race holds another important distinction as the two candidates — Robert Zimmerman and George Santos — are openly gay, marking the first time out gay candidates from the two major parties have squared off in a House race.

In separate interviews with the Washington Blade, the candidates had markedly different takes on the nature of the historic first, with one saying his sexual orientation influenced his approach to politics and the other utterly rejecting its importance.

Zimmerman, a progressive Democrat and communications official who supports causes like LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and gun reform, said being gay and closeted in his youth living on Long Island in the 1970s shaped his view of politics.

“I went to speak to an educator I trusted, and he suggested to me I try a doctor to make me better, because in those days, that was the path, conversion therapy,” Zimmerman said. “And I certainly didn’t do that, but it just reflects how isolating that period was, but I guess out of that period, that sense of isolation, it helped me to look at the world around me and see a lot of other folks who felt unseen and unheard, and it helped me find my voice that brought me to protest lines, brought me into political activism.”

The first protest for Zimmerman, he said, was in front of the Democratic Party’s headquarters. He’s now a member of the Democratic National Committee in New York. Zimmerman said his political activism also brought him to the office of his member of Congress, where he became a congressional intern and later a member of his senior staff.

Santos, a conservative Republican, downplayed the importance of being a gay congressional candidate and said he doesn’t make it an issue in his campaign, although he conceded,”it feels awesome that the opportunities are equal for everybody in this country.”

“It’s great to see that opportunities are equal to all in this country,” Santos said. “It’s always been that way. … So I don’t make it a campaign issue as far as I don’t campaign on that issue. It’s not a campaign issue for me. I think it’s a distraction, really about the real issues plaguing our country right now. I’d rather talk about that stuff all day long than talk about my sexual preference.”

Key issues for Santos, he said, were many of the same issues Republicans are running on as part of the 2022 mid-term elections, such as inflation, the cost of energy, and crime, which he said are issues that affect every American to varying degrees regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Although he downplays the significance of his sexual orientation, Santos would have the distinction if elected as the first openly gay Republican in Congress since the departure of former Rep. Jim Kolbe in 2009. Santos would also have the distinction of being the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican candidate elected to Congress.

Not exactly fitting the mold of gay members of Congress seen in the past, Santos has aligned himself with a conservative ideology. He has called abortion rights “barbaric,” and spoken favorably about the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Footage exists of Santos saying he was at the Ellipse for the rally with former President Trump that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Santos didn’t deny that he was present at the “Stop the Steal” rally, but said he “did not go” to the U.S. Capitol building on Jan . 6 and downplayed the significance of his presence at the rally.

“I just don’t see how that’s relevant to this interview, and to what we’re doing in 2022,” Santos said. “I just really think the American people deserve journalists to really focus on the future. I really liked this interview to be about proposals and what I’m going to present in Congress come 2023 instead of looking at two years ago, and really reminiscing on that.”

Amid news stories of Republican candidates continuing to deny the outcome of the 2020 election, Santos indicated he wasn’t among them. Asked whether President Biden won the 2020 election, Santos replied, “He’s the president of the United States, I never contested that.” Asked whether Biden is president because he won the election, Santos replied, “Of course.”

Albert Fujii, spokesperson for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said the records of both candidates made it easy for the organization, which endorses openly LGBTQ people running for public office, to decide whom to support.

“Victory Fund proudly endorsed Robert Zimmerman because of his life-long LGBTQ advocacy, commitment to public service and fierce pro-equality and pro-choice vision for America,” Fujii said. “We believe abortion rights are LGBTQ rights and since our inception have always required candidates be pro-equality and pro-choice to receive our endorsement.”

Fujii added Santos never approached the Victory Fund to seek an endorsement. Gay Republicans have sometimes criticized the organization as being a partisan tool of Democrats.

Political outsiders have rated New York’s 3rd congressional district as “leaning Democratic.” Although some initial polling was favorable to Santos as Republicans had an advantage with inflation and gas prices being a major issue, the tide appears to have turned nationwide after the Supreme Court ruling against Roe v. Wade served as a wakeup call to the Democratic base.

Zimmerman said the ruling in the Dobbs case has stirred a high level of activism, predicting LGBTQ rights would be next on the chopping block due to the concurrence of U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who called for revisiting the decision in favor of same-sex marriage.

“You’re seeing a level of energy and activism as a result of the Dobbs decision,” Zimmerman said. “That is truly unprecedented for a midterm election When you take away 50 years of protection for women, and people also understand that’s just the opening bid. They’re coming after our rights of the LGBTQ+ community next, and they’re coming after our rights in so many other areas. You’ve seen a level of engagement, coalition building, and activism that is really unprecedented.”

Santos, presenting a different take on the Dobbs decision, said he thought the ruling “was great” and “gave the states back its power of the Tenth Amendment.”

“I don’t think it affects us here in New York,” Santos said. “I do understand that there’s other states with different decisions, but that’s precisely what the Tenth Amendment does — it gives the rights back to the state so that on a more hyperlocal concentrated issue, the people’s constituency, get to pick what they think is best for them.”

Thomas’s concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision is also not a threat, Santos said, although he criticized it as an “unfortunate moment.”

“He had an unfortunate moment in a dissenting opinion that the majority did not sign on,” Santos said. “Clearly, that’s why it has no legal value. It’s nothing more than a legal essay. A legal essay written by a Supreme Court justice with — I’m just going to go out on a limb and say not the brightest moment in his career.”

One of the consequences of the Dobbs decision was the introduction in Congress of legislation knowns as the Respect for Marriage Act, which would seek to codify same-sex marriage into law regardless of whether or not the Supreme Court decides to revisit it.

Santos, asked whether he’s in favor of the bill, replied, “If the bill is put through committee properly? Yes.” Santos went on to say he had calls from Republicans about the legislation and told them it’s the law of the land and a matter of “if you feel comfortable supporting my right to marry my spouse of my choosing.”

“My only hang up with it is I really wish to give it more legitimacy and not leave any questions open for pundits on both sides of the aisle … let’s just get it passed,” Santos said. “I mean, I have no issue. Of course I’d vote for it.”

When the Blade pointed out he appeared to be leaving the door open to vote “no” based on objections of not going through the regular order of the committee process, Santos denied that was the case: “I didn’t say that. I just said I want it to be that way, so there’s no questions about it. I never in any instance suggested to you I would say ‘no.'”

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