This Republican attended his gay son’s wedding three days after voting against marriage equality bill

Sixty percent of Americans support the legislation, according to a new poll

A Republican lawmaker in the U.S. reportedly attended his gay son’s wedding just days after voting against a national bill to codify marriage equality.

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.) was one of 157 House Republicans who voted against to the Respect for Marriage Act during a July 19 floor vote. If signed into law, the legislation would fully repeal to the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally defined marriages as a union between a man and a woman, and prevent states from refusing to recognize marriages on the basis of characteristics like sexual orientation, gender and race.

Prior to the vote, a spokesperson for Thompson accused the legislation’s Democrat supporters of pushing the bill to bolster their midterm chances. 

“This bill was nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats in Congress who have failed to address historic inflation and out of control prices at gas pumps and grocery stores,” Maddison Stone, Thompson’s press secretary, said in an email to the Pennsylvania newspaper Centre Daily Times.

Thompson’s opposition to the same-sex marriage bill was interestingly timed: as Gawker was the first to report, his son (whose name was not released to the press) was set to celebrate his wedding on July 22, three days after the House vote. Thompson’s son confirmed the 15th congressional district representative’s attendance in a statement to NBC News, saying his “father was there” as he “married the love of [his] life.”

Thompson verified that he was present for the ceremony in a July 25 statement through his PR team. 

“Congressman and Mrs. Thompson were thrilled to attend and celebrate their son’s marriage on Friday night as he began this new chapter in his life,” Stone said. “The Thompsons are very happy to welcome their new son-in-law into their family.”

Despite the congressman’s lack of support for the Respect for Marriage Act, the legislation passed the House last week by a 267-157 vote. Forty-seven of Thompson’s House GOP colleagues crossed the aisle to back the bill, including Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Another conservative supporter, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), tweeted her support for the bill after voting yes. “If gay couples want to be as happily or miserably married as straight couples, more power to them,” she wrote on July 19. “Trust me, I’ve tried it more than once.”

Backers of the legislation said the bill is necessary to ensure the Supreme Court is not able to erode marriage equality following its June 24 decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. In a concurring opinion, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to revisit its decisions in landmark cases like Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized marriage equality in all 50 states, in the wake of the controversial abortion ruling.

It still remains to be seen whether the Respect for Marriage Act has the votes to pass the evenly divided Senate, where Republican obstruction has held up the Equality Act despite President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign pledge to pass it. Ten votes are needed to avoid a filibuster, and eight Republican senators have already told CNN they will not support the bill, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio referred to the legislation as a “stupid waste of time.”

Other GOP senators, however, have suggested that they are inclined to support it. According to CNN, five Republicans in Congress’ upper chambers have suggested that they will vote in favour of the Respect for Marriage Act: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). 

That count does not include Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who hinted that he will not stand in the way of codifying same-sex marriage. “I’m all about living life the way you want to,” he said on July 20 in comments reported by the Alabama CBS news affiliate WHNT. “It’s a free country.”

While a vote has not been scheduled on the legislation, many remain optimistic that the bill could pick up the additional GOP votes it needs to pass. Portman, who has a gay son, Will, formally signed on as a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act last week. The longtime Republican lawmaker, who is retiring this year, announced in 2013 that he had evolved on same-sex marriage after his son came out two years prior. That declaration made Portman the first sitting GOP senator to support marriage equality.

Polls show that Americans are widely supportive of the legislation. A survey from Politico and Morning Consult conducted between July 22 and 24 found that 58 percent of respondents supported a federal law safeguarding marriage equality, while just 31 percent opposed the legislation.

Nico Lang

Nico Lang is an award-winning reporter and editor, and former contributing editor at Xtra. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Washington Post, Vox, BuzzFeed, Jezebel, The Guardian, Out, The Advocate, and the L.A. Times.

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