A closer look at the House Republicans who broke ranks for the marriage bill

History was made last month when 47 House Republicans joined all Democrats in passing legislation that would federally protect same-sex marriages and roll back a 25-year-old law that defines marriage in the United States as between one man and one woman.

While an overwhelming majority of the House GOP conference opposed the Respect for Marriage Act — which would also protect interracial marriages — the bipartisan support was considered significant when Congress remains bitterly polarized over many issues. Many in the supportive group of Republicans are retiring or represent districts in Democrats’ sights in the midterms.

How incumbent Republicans

voted on the bill

Among those being targeted by the Democratic

Congressional Campaign Committee,

two-thirds supported the bill

one-third opposed it

47

supported

the bill

157

157

7

did not

vote

opposed it

opposed it

Leaving

How incumbent Republicans

voted on the bill

Among those being targeted by the Democratic

Congressional Campaign Committee,

two-thirds supported the bill

one-third opposed it

47

supported

the bill

157

7

opposed it

did not vote

Leaving

How incumbent Republicans voted on the bill

Among those being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,

two-thirds supported the bill and

one-third opposed it.

47

157

7

supported the bill

opposed it

did not vote

­—Leaving

The vote caused Senate Democrats to spring into action, working to find 10 Republicans who could overcome the 60-vote threshold needed for passage in the chamber after leaders initially expressed doubt such legislation could garner support from across the aisle.

It remains in question, however, whether Senate Republicans would follow the green-lit argument of their House colleagues — that supporting the legislation is rooted in principles found in the Constitution. So far, five Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), whose son is gay — have said they would support the legislation. Five more are needed to overcome the filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold.

It’s likely those trying to find the necessary support will have time to do so. The Senate adjourned Sunday, making it more likely such legislation could be considered as early as September.

But the unexpected bipartisan support in the House shows how quickly same-sex marriage has become widely accepted in the past decade, including on Capitol Hill, even as the Republican Party remains highly critical of other aspects of the LGBTQ community. And though the Supreme Court officially declared same-sex marriage settled law in the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, Democrats felt the onus to ensure such rights are federally codified to prevent any challenges to such protections in the future.

The bill’s passage also slightly marred House Democrats attempts to paint all Republicans, including vulnerable lawmakers in swing districts, as extremists who would support rolling back such protections. That fear was raised after Justice Clarence Thomas openly questioned whether the court “should reconsider” rulings that guaranteed access to birth control and same-sex couples’ right to marriage in his concurrence to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned federal abortion protections in Roe v. Wade.

Of the 47 House Republicans who voted in favor of the same-sex marriage legislation, 24 are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of seats to target in the midterms. But only a handful represent true swing districts according to the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter’s ratings, given that polling continues to show Republicans are more likely to regain the House majority. They only need to net five seats from Democrats to do so.

Republicans seeking re-election

and how their districts voted

Forty-seven representatives

support codifying same-sex marriage

District leaning

GOP

DEM

Presidential vote

within 10 points

Garcia

Stefanik

Flores

Salazar

Valadao

Mace

Cheney

Meijer

+10

0

10

20

30

35

Cook Partisan Voting Index

8 who support the bill are leaving

14 who oppose are leaving

3 who did not vote are leaving

Republicans seeking re-election and

how their districts voted

Forty-seven representatives

support codifying same-sex marriage

District leaning

DEM

GOP

Presidential vote within 10 points

Stefanik

Salazar

Flores

Garcia

Valadao

Meijer

Mace

Cheney

+10

+5

5

15

20

25

30

35

0

10

Cook Partisan Voting Index

8 who support the bill are leaving

14 who oppose are leaving

3 who did not vote are leaving

Republicans seeking re-election and how their districts voted

Forty-seven representatives

support codifying same-sex marriage

District leaning

DEM

GOP

Presidential vote within 10 points

Stefanik

Garcia

Salazar

Flores

Valadao

Meijer

Mace

Cheney

+10

+5

5

15

20

25

30

35

0

10

Cook Partisan Voting Index

8 who support the bill are leaving

14 who oppose are leaving

3 who did not vote are leaving

Some Republican “yes” votes can be explained based on the large LGBTQ communities within their district. For example, all three Republicans in the Miami-area supported the measure, including Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar who represents a Democratic-leaning district.

Largely all Republicans who voted in favor of the legislation said they believe marriage is settled law based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

“I know that this is the right vote because it is the constitutional vote and we need to protect equal rights for every single American,” Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) said in an interview.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) was more blunt moments after the bill passed in the House, tweeting, “I’m a big fan of marriage, having done it a few times. And if gay couples want to be as happily or miserably married as straight couples, more power to them."

Retiring members are often considered the first ones to buck the party on a divisive issue, given they no longer live in fear of retribution from voters. But only four Republican lawmakers did so on marriage equality, while another 17 who are leaving voted against it. Most of the 17 come from extremely conservative districts. Others are running for Senate in conservative states where such a vote could hurt them politically.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who voted in support of marriage equality and is retiring, observed that politics often leads “people try to fashion arguments that suit their vote instead of looking at the bill itself,” preventing them from taking a stand on issues that are settled law.

There were still some surprising votes from Republicans who would be expected to vote based on how conservative their district is. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), for example, has long had one of the most conservative voting records in the House, before she began frequently rebuking former president Donald Trump. But her vote in support for marriage equality was personal, explaining last year that she was “wrong” to have been against same-sex marriage and had since reversed course in support of her sister who is a lesbian.

GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), both of whom represent safe Republican districts, also broke ranks with Republican leadership, voting in favor of the legislation.

Still, roughly 80 percent of the GOP conference voted against the legislation. Even so, it was difficult to find Republicans who were opposed to the principle of marriage equality itself, largely pinning their dissent on objecting to Democrats quickly ushering the bill onto the floor without committee consideration or Republican input. Others found it unnecessary to vote on legislation the Supreme Court already ruled as federally protected.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) understood most of his colleagues voted against the legislation out of frustration at Democrats “absolute bull---- process” of putting the bill on the floor without much time for consideration.

“But, you know, for pretty much every Republican that I’ve spoken to — whether they vote in favor for it or not — same thing as me, I could give a rat’s caboose who somebody marries, relates with, falls in love with, anything else as a piece of it, their gender or anything else," he said. "I wasn’t going to get mixed up in the politics of it.”

Filter by state or name

Supports 47

Opposes 157

Did not vote 7

These Republicans voted in support of the Respect for Marriage Act.

These Republicans voted against the Respect for Marriage Act.

These Republicans did not vote.

Kelly Armstrong N.D.
Don Bacon Neb.
Cliff Bentz Ore.
Ken Calvert Calif.
Kat Cammack Fla.
Mike Carey Ohio
Liz Cheney Wyo.
John Curtis Utah
Rodney Davis Ill.
Mario Diaz-Balart Fla.
Tom Emmer Minn.
Brian Fitzpatrick Pa.
Andrew R. Garbarino N.Y.
Mike Garcia Calif.
Carlos A. Giménez Fla.
Tony Gonzales Tex.
Anthony Gonzalez Ohio
Ashley Hinson Iowa
Darrell Issa Calif.
Chris Jacobs N.Y.
David Joyce Ohio
John Katko N.Y.
Adam Kinzinger Ill.
Nancy Mace S.C.
Nicole Malliotakis N.Y.
Brian Mast Fla.
Peter Meijer Mich.
Dan Meuser Pa.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks Iowa
Blake D. Moore Utah
Dan Newhouse Wash.
Jay Obernolte Calif.
Burgess Owens Utah
Scott Perry Pa.
Tom Rice S.C.
Maria Elvira Salazar Fla.
Mike Simpson Idaho
Elise Stefanik N.Y.
Bryan Steil Wis.
Chris Stewart Utah
Michael R. Turner Ohio
Fred Upton Mich.
David G. Valadao Calif.
Jeff Van Drew N.J.
Ann Wagner Mo.
Michael Waltz Fla.
Lee Zeldin N.Y.
Robert B. Aderholt Ala.
Rick Allen Ga.
Mark Amodei Nev.
Jodey Arrington Tex.
Jim Baird Ind.
Troy Balderson Ohio
Jim Banks Ind.
Garland "Andy" Barr Ky.
Jack Bergman Mich.
Stephanie I. Bice Okla.
Andy Biggs Ariz.
Gus M. Bilirakis Fla.
Dan Bishop N.C.
Lauren Boebert Colo.
Mike Bost Ill.
Kevin Brady Tex.
Mo Brooks Ala.
Vern Buchanan Fla.
Ken Buck Colo.
Larry Bucshon Ind.
Ted Budd N.C.
Michael C. Burgess Tex.
Jerry L. Carl Ala.
Earl L. "Buddy" Carter Ga.
John Carter Tex.
Madison Cawthorn N.C.
Steve Chabot Ohio
Ben Cline Va.
Michael Cloud Tex.
Andrew S. Clyde Ga.
Tom Cole Okla.
James Comer Ky.
Connie Conway Calif.
Eric A. "Rick" Crawford Ark.
Dan Crenshaw Tex.
Warren Davidson Ohio
Scott DesJarlais Tenn.
Byron Donalds Fla.
Jeff Duncan S.C.
Neal Dunn Fla.
Jake Ellzey Tex.
Ron Estes Kan.
Pat Fallon Tex.
Randy Feenstra Iowa
Drew Ferguson Ga.
Michelle Fischbach Minn.
Scott Fitzgerald Wis.
Charles J. "Chuck" Fleischmann Tenn.
Mike Flood Neb.
Mayra Flores Tex.
Virginia Foxx N.C.
C. Scott Franklin Fla.
Russ Fulcher Idaho
Matt Gaetz Fla.
Mike Gallagher Wis.
Bob Gibbs Ohio
Louie Gohmert Tex.
Bob Good Va.
Lance Gooden Tex.
Paul A. Gosar Ariz.
Kay Granger Tex.
Garret Graves La.
Sam Graves Mo.
Mark Green Tenn.
Marjorie Taylor Greene Ga.
H. Morgan Griffith Va.
Glenn Grothman Wis.
Michael Guest Miss.
Brett Guthrie Ky.
Andy Harris Md.
Diana Harshbarger Tenn.
Kevin Hern Okla.
Yvette Herrell N.M.
Jaime Herrera Beutler Wash.
Jody Hice Ga.
Clay Higgins La.
French Hill Ark.
Richard Hudson N.C.
Bill Huizenga Mich.
Ronny Jackson Tex.
Mike Johnson La.
Bill Johnson Ohio
Dusty Johnson S.D.
Jim Jordan Ohio
John Joyce Pa.
Frederick B. Keller Pa.
Mike Kelly Pa.
Trent Kelly Miss.
Young Kim Calif.
David Kustoff Tenn.
Darin LaHood Ill.
Doug LaMalfa Calif.
Jake LaTurner Kan.
Doug Lamborn Colo.
Robert E. Latta Ohio
Debbie Lesko Ariz.
Julia Letlow La.
Billy Long Mo.
Barry Loudermilk Ga.
Blaine Luetkemeyer Mo.
Tracey Mann Kan.
Thomas Massie Ky.
Kevin McCarthy Calif.
Michael McCaul Tex.
Lisa C. McClain Mich.
Tom McClintock Calif.
Patrick T. McHenry N.C.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers Wash.
Mary E. Miller Ill.
John Moolenaar Mich.
Alex Mooney W.Va.
Barry Moore Ala.
Markwayne Mullin Okla.
Greg Murphy N.C.
Troy E. Nehls Tex.
Ralph Norman S.C.
Steven M. Palazzo Miss.
Gary Palmer Ala.
Greg Pence Ind.
August Pfluger Tex.
Bill Posey Fla.
Guy Reschenthaler Pa.
Mike D. Rogers Ala.
Harold Rogers Ky.
John Rose Tenn.
Matthew M. Rosendale Mont.
David Rouzer N.C.
Chip Roy Tex.
John Rutherford Fla.
Steve Scalise La.
David Schweikert Ariz.
Austin Scott Ga.
Pete Sessions Tex.
Christopher H. Smith N.J.
Jason T. Smith Mo.
Adrian Smith Neb.
Lloyd Smucker Pa.
Victoria Spartz Ind.
Pete Stauber Minn.
Michelle Steel Calif.
Greg Steube Fla.
Van Taylor Tex.
Claudia Tenney N.Y.
Glenn Thompson Pa.
Tom Tiffany Wis.
William Timmons S.C.
Beth Van Duyne Tex.
Tim Walberg Mich.
Jackie Walorski Ind.
Randy Weber Tex.
Daniel Webster Fla.
Brad Wenstrup Ohio
Bruce Westerman Ark.
Roger Williams Tex.
Joe Wilson S.C.
Rob Wittman Va.
Steve Womack Ark.
Brian Babin Tex.
Tim Burchett Tenn.
Vicky Hartzler Mo.
Trey Hollingsworth Ind.
Frank D. Lucas Okla.
David B. McKinley W.Va.
Carol Miller W.Va.

Supports 47

Opposes 157

Did not vote 7

Scroll to see a full list of names

Supports 47

These Republicans voted in support of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Kelly Armstrong N.D.
Don Bacon Neb.
Cliff Bentz Ore.
Ken Calvert Calif.
Kat Cammack Fla.
Mike Carey Ohio
Liz Cheney Wyo.
John Curtis Utah
Rodney Davis Ill.
Mario Diaz-Balart Fla.
Tom Emmer Minn.
Brian Fitzpatrick Pa.
Andrew R. Garbarino N.Y.
Mike Garcia Calif.
Carlos A. Giménez Fla.
Tony Gonzales Tex.
Anthony Gonzalez Ohio
Ashley Hinson Iowa
Darrell Issa Calif.
Chris Jacobs N.Y.
David Joyce Ohio
John Katko N.Y.
Adam Kinzinger Ill.
Nancy Mace S.C.
Nicole Malliotakis N.Y.
Brian Mast Fla.
Peter Meijer Mich.
Dan Meuser Pa.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks Iowa
Blake D. Moore Utah
Dan Newhouse Wash.
Jay Obernolte Calif.
Burgess Owens Utah
Scott Perry Pa.
Tom Rice S.C.
Maria Elvira Salazar Fla.
Mike Simpson Idaho
Elise Stefanik N.Y.
Bryan Steil Wis.
Chris Stewart Utah
Michael R. Turner Ohio
Fred Upton Mich.
David G. Valadao Calif.
Jeff Van Drew N.J.
Ann Wagner Mo.
Michael Waltz Fla.
Lee Zeldin N.Y.

Opposes 157

These Republicans voted against the Respect for Marriage Act.

Robert B. Aderholt Ala.
Rick Allen Ga.
Mark Amodei Nev.
Jodey Arrington Tex.
Jim Baird Ind.
Troy Balderson Ohio
Jim Banks Ind.
Garland "Andy" Barr Ky.
Jack Bergman Mich.
Stephanie I. Bice Okla.
Andy Biggs Ariz.
Gus M. Bilirakis Fla.
Dan Bishop N.C.
Lauren Boebert Colo.
Mike Bost Ill.
Kevin Brady Tex.
Mo Brooks Ala.
Vern Buchanan Fla.
Ken Buck Colo.
Larry Bucshon Ind.
Ted Budd N.C.
Michael C. Burgess Tex.
Jerry L. Carl Ala.
Earl L. "Buddy" Carter Ga.
John Carter Tex.
Madison Cawthorn N.C.
Steve Chabot Ohio
Ben Cline Va.
Michael Cloud Tex.
Andrew S. Clyde Ga.
Tom Cole Okla.
James Comer Ky.
Connie Conway Calif.
Eric A. "Rick" Crawford Ark.
Dan Crenshaw Tex.
Warren Davidson Ohio
Scott DesJarlais Tenn.
Byron Donalds Fla.
Jeff Duncan S.C.
Neal Dunn Fla.
Jake Ellzey Tex.
Ron Estes Kan.
Pat Fallon Tex.
Randy Feenstra Iowa
Drew Ferguson Ga.
Michelle Fischbach Minn.
Scott Fitzgerald Wis.
Charles J. "Chuck" Fleischmann Tenn.
Mike Flood Neb.
Mayra Flores Tex.
Virginia Foxx N.C.
C. Scott Franklin Fla.
Russ Fulcher Idaho
Matt Gaetz Fla.
Mike Gallagher Wis.
Bob Gibbs Ohio
Louie Gohmert Tex.
Bob Good Va.
Lance Gooden Tex.
Paul A. Gosar Ariz.
Kay Granger Tex.
Garret Graves La.
Sam Graves Mo.
Mark Green Tenn.
Marjorie Taylor Greene Ga.
H. Morgan Griffith Va.
Glenn Grothman Wis.
Michael Guest Miss.
Brett Guthrie Ky.
Andy Harris Md.
Diana Harshbarger Tenn.
Kevin Hern Okla.
Yvette Herrell N.M.
Jaime Herrera Beutler Wash.
Jody Hice Ga.
Clay Higgins La.
French Hill Ark.
Richard Hudson N.C.
Bill Huizenga Mich.
Ronny Jackson Tex.
Mike Johnson La.
Bill Johnson Ohio
Dusty Johnson S.D.
Jim Jordan Ohio
John Joyce Pa.
Frederick B. Keller Pa.
Mike Kelly Pa.
Trent Kelly Miss.
Young Kim Calif.
David Kustoff Tenn.
Darin LaHood Ill.
Doug LaMalfa Calif.
Jake LaTurner Kan.
Doug Lamborn Colo.
Robert E. Latta Ohio
Debbie Lesko Ariz.
Julia Letlow La.
Billy Long Mo.
Barry Loudermilk Ga.
Blaine Luetkemeyer Mo.
Tracey Mann Kan.
Thomas Massie Ky.
Kevin McCarthy Calif.
Michael McCaul Tex.
Lisa C. McClain Mich.
Tom McClintock Calif.
Patrick T. McHenry N.C.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers Wash.
Mary E. Miller Ill.
John Moolenaar Mich.
Alex Mooney W.Va.
Barry Moore Ala.
Markwayne Mullin Okla.
Greg Murphy N.C.
Troy E. Nehls Tex.
Ralph Norman S.C.
Steven M. Palazzo Miss.
Gary Palmer Ala.
Greg Pence Ind.
August Pfluger Tex.
Bill Posey Fla.
Guy Reschenthaler Pa.
Mike D. Rogers Ala.
Harold Rogers Ky.
John Rose Tenn.
Matthew M. Rosendale Mont.
David Rouzer N.C.
Chip Roy Tex.
John Rutherford Fla.
Steve Scalise La.
David Schweikert Ariz.
Austin Scott Ga.
Pete Sessions Tex.
Christopher H. Smith N.J.
Jason T. Smith Mo.
Adrian Smith Neb.
Lloyd Smucker Pa.
Victoria Spartz Ind.
Pete Stauber Minn.
Michelle Steel Calif.
Greg Steube Fla.
Van Taylor Tex.
Claudia Tenney N.Y.
Glenn Thompson Pa.
Tom Tiffany Wis.
William Timmons S.C.
Beth Van Duyne Tex.
Tim Walberg Mich.
Jackie Walorski Ind.
Randy Weber Tex.
Daniel Webster Fla.
Brad Wenstrup Ohio
Bruce Westerman Ark.
Roger Williams Tex.
Joe Wilson S.C.
Rob Wittman Va.
Steve Womack Ark.

Did not vote 7

These Republicans did not vote.

Brian Babin Tex.
Tim Burchett Tenn.
Vicky Hartzler Mo.
Trey Hollingsworth Ind.
Frank D. Lucas Okla.
David B. McKinley W.Va.
Carol Miller W.Va.
About this story

Source: Respect for Marriage Act roll call from U.S. House.

Adrián Blanco Ramos contributed to this report. Illustration by Laura Padilla Castellanos. Editing by Annah Aschbrenner, Kainaz Amaria and Kevin Uhrmacher. Copy editing by Anthony Chen.