Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Why Steil Supported Same Sex Marriage

Rep. Bryan Steil is only Republican in state to support House bill, as his party swings ever further right.

By - Jul 20th, 2022 01:23 pm
Bryan Steil. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Bryan Steil. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil is the odd man out.

Yesterday a bill in the House of Representatives to codify same-sex marriage into law, and called the Respect for Marriage Act, passed on a vote of 267-157. That included a yes vote by 47 Republicans — or 22% of 213 Republican House members. In Wisconsin just one of its five Republican members voted in favor of the legislation — Steil — while U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald opposed the bill.

Democrats are pushing to codify rights previously granted by U.S. Supreme Court in the the wake of its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and its protection of abortion rights. A concurring decision in Dobbs by Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should also “reconsider” its previous due process precedents, including a 2015 decision which gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

In voting against the bill, the four Republicans are taking a stand that most voters in Wisconsin oppose. A poll conducted in April by Marquette University Law School showed just 19% of those surveyed opposed marriages for gay and lesbian couples while 72% supported this, with 8 percent not sure. Support in the state for same-sex marriage has risen dramatically from 55% in 2014 to 72% in April.

The fact that Republican congressmen representing half the state can ignore these views is just another example of what happens when districts are gerrymandered by state GOP officials to give those congressman “safe” districts that lean heavily Republican. These four Republican congressmen are more concerned about being primaried, opposed by a Republican running on their right, then facing a Democrat in the general election. Indeed, Grothman and Gallagher don’t even face a Democratic opponent in November. That’s how protected these districts are from a genuine two-party contest.

But Steil has the district with the smallest margin of Republican leaning voters, which would explain him joining up with Democrats to support same sex marriage. We can only speculate, as Steil offered no statement explaining his vote.

Nationally, the Republican House members are also bucking the views of voters. The latest national Marquette poll, released today, shows that 65% of Americans surveyed support same-sex marriage. That included 45% of Republicans.

In short, most voters in the state and the nation would probably sympathize with Wisconsin’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, whose district is centered in Dane County, and who offered an impassioned statement on the House Floor: “I want to make sure my husband, Phil, can visit me in the hospital should I have to go back again, like when I had triple bypass a few years ago. I want to make sure my husband has my earned benefits for retirement and Social Security. I want to make sure that my husband is taken care of just like your spouses are taken care of.”

Or with this statement by Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, whose district is centered in Milwaukee: “I have always thought it was wrong for the government to tell people who they can or can’t marry…That’s why I supported the Respect for Marriage Act, which helps preserve the dignity and freedom that comes with being able to marry who you love – no matter their gender or skin.”

Wisconsin’s Republicans are well aware their stance on same sex marriage is opposed by most voters, which is why some (Grothman and Fitzgerald) offered no comment on their vote, and others offered evasive comments, with Gallagher contending the Respect for Marriage Act was unneeded because the Supreme Court doesn’t intend to overturn its 2015 decision approving same sex marriage while Tiffany called the bill a Democratic distraction from issues like inflation and rising crime.

Republicans are also in the minority on the abortion issue. Given the new MU poll’s findings that 61% of Americans now disapprove of the U.S. Supreme Court and 64% oppose the decision overturning Roe, a majority in the nation might agree with Moore’s statement that “a conservative and extreme Supreme Court majority (has)… chipped away at equality and taken us back in time.”

U.S. Senators may be the next to vote on the Respect for Marriage Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he hopes to get some Republican support for the bill. Wisconsin’s two senators, Republican Ron Johnson, and Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator, are likely to take opposite sides on the legislation.

The issue will also figure in Wisconsin race for governor. Republican businessman Tim Michels has indicated he opposes same sex marriage while former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch supports it. That will probably help Michels in the primary, putting him to the right of Kleefisch. But if Michals wins, he faces incumbent Democrat Tony Evers, who supports same sex marriage and abortion rights (which both Michels and Kleefisch oppose).

These kinds of Republican stands, which are clearly opposed by the majority of voters, help explain why the GOP has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. The Republicans’ extreme views are turning them into a minority party, which also explains the push to preserve gerrymandering, and reduce the turnout through restrictions on voting — all moves (among many others) to frustrate the will of the majority.

But all of that wasn’t enough to wall off Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, where Steil carefully voted to support what most Americans want.

4 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Why Steil Supported Same Sex Marriage”

  1. Swblackwood says:

    It’;s not hard to understand. When a Repug has a personal connection to a gay person, they often soften their stance on this issue. That’s what makes them so repugnant to me. They will only be swayed by this personal connection. But they will be very quiet about it.

  2. Paul Trotter says:

    It not that he really supports it. It’s all about the vote and getting re-elected. Rebecca K says she does. When push comes to shove she’ll fall in line and oppose it if elected . You simply can’t trust a Republican.

  3. Thomas Sepllman says:

    Hopefully the Dems have learned that their ad Just VOTE Democrat finally is a message that is simple and clear. Hillary’s message should have been If you voted for Baraca VOTE for me The challenge in the next election will be to see if the Black community in Milwaukee will match there Baraca numbers in support of the Dems and hopefully Barnes

  4. ringo muldano says:

    rCons are at once war whores, worshipers of the god o’greed, misogynistic incels, and the Party of Pious – you can’t spell the latter without the P.O.S.

    These bastards and bitches have already started the civil war with their slate of fake electors and still continue the drumbeat of election lies. Along with the oligarch propaganda machine, they’ve collectively convinced 1 in 5 AmeriCons that political violence is OK, because well… government is evil (“but vote for me and I’ll stop these queers, brownies and god-haters from taking over!)

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