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GOP Sen. Mike Braun says he would vote to codify ‘settled’ interracial marriage but wants to ‘wait and see’ what his constituents think about same-sex unions

Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana on Capitol Hill on June 14, 2022.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

  • Braun once said interracial marriage should be left to states before having to clarify his remarks.
  • Now, GOP senators are being asked about a bill that would codify both same-sex and interracial marriage.
  • Braun says interracial marriage is “settled,” but hasn’t decided whether same-sex marriage is too.

Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana says he’s undecided on whether to vote for a bill that would codify both same-sex marriage and interracial marriage into law, though he says he’d vote for it if the bill was just about interracial marriage.

“If it were that alone, of course, I would vote to codify it,” he told Insider at the Capitol on Wednesday. “When it comes to the bill itself, I’m going to wait and see what’s all in it.”

Braun was among a variety of GOP senators that wouldn’t say on Wednesday whether they’d support the Respect for Marriage Act.

While both interracial marriage and same-sex marriage have been the law of the land since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Loving v. Virginia decision and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the decision revoking the right to an abortion has raised concerns that other rights are at risk.

Braun indicated that voting to codify interracial marriage was an easy decision because “that’s settled,” while he would need to think more about whether the same principle applies to same-sex marriage.

“I’m going to look and see what Hoosiers are interested in my doing,” he said. “And I’m going to look at the text itself.” 

“We’ll find out,” he added. “We’re gonna have a vote, it sounds like.”

Braun’s statement in support of codifying interracial marriage comes after Braun made comments to reporters in Indiana that suggested he didn’t support the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which overturned remaining state bans on interracial marriage. 

He later told Insider that he had misunderstood the question, and he said on Wednesday that his comments had been “misconstrued.”

Republican senators are now grappling with how to vote on an issue that the Supreme Court decided 7 years ago, with many telling reporters on Wednesday that they were not sure how they would vote.

After the bill passed the House with 47 GOP yes votes on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Wednesday that he wants to “bring this bill to the floor” but is still “working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”

—bryan metzger (@metzgov) July 19, 2022

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio are co-sponsoring the bill, while Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina told CNN’s Manu Raju that “probably will” vote for it.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also told Insider that while she’s still reviewing the bill, she supports marriage equality.

In total, that would mean 4 Republican votes in favor of the bill, with 6 more needed to break a filibuster, alongside the 50 Democrats who are all publicly in support of the legislation.

While some Republican senators — such as Marco Rubio of Florida — said they would not support the legislation, others were noncommittal. 

“I’d have to look at the legislation,” Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina told Insider. “Is that too much to ask?”

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah wouldn’t say which way he’d vote on the bill, calling it “unnecessary” while brushing off the significance of Thomas’s ruling. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was also noncommital on the legislation, but said he was supportive of gay marriage.

And Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a member of GOP leadership, told reporters that she would keep “an open mind” about the bill. “I have a good number of very close friends that are same-sex married,” she said.

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