House approves same-sex marriage bill pushed by Pocan, Baldwin

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan says the bill is to enshrine marriage protections for same-sex couples in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion

MADISON, Wis. — Federal protections for same-sex marriage are one step closer after the House passed legislation introduced by two Wisconsin Democrats.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who joined U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in spearheading the legislation, said the bill came out of fears that the Supreme Court might strike down same-sex marriage protections as it did abortion rights.

“We’re just getting ready for anything,” Pocan said in an interview with News 3 Now ahead of Tuesday’s vote. “We realized that when you have a Supreme Court that is willing to overturn a half-century of law, which is something I don’t think Supreme Courts in the past have really done, we realized that there is a role for the legislative body to get this clarified.”

The 267-157 vote included all Democrats in the House and 47 Republicans, but the effort would need similar bipartisan support on the Senate side to overcome the likely filibuster. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, has already signed on, but there would need to be nine others to join her.

The bill itself effectively overrules the Defense of Marriage Act — a bill that was passed in the 1990s that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. The law itself was deemed unconstitutional by two Supreme Court decisions in the 2010s but still remains on the books.

The bill would also enshrine federal protections against laws that discriminate against couples on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin. Pocan was critical of those voicing their opposition.

“It’s a pretty extremist position to vote against that,” he said. “The debate on the floor was all over the place on the Republican side, from — ‘it’s not necessary’ to ‘it’s up to the states’ to ‘it’s about the border, it’s about inflation’ — things that didn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but were certainly part of where the Republicans were debating.”

On the Republican side of the congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil was the only one to join Democrats in supporting the measure.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, who voted against the bill, said in a statement that the legislation was unwarranted fearmongering on the part of Democrats in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion rights.