U.S. states, and not the federal government, should decide whether same-sex marriage should be legally recognized, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Aug. 7.
Graham’s comments came during a panel discussion on CNN’s “State of the Union” after H.R. 8404, the proposed Respect for Marriage Act, was approved on July 19 by the House of Representatives in a 267–157 vote, with the backing of 47 Republicans. The legislation is pending in the 50–50 Senate, where it's expected to have the support of Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Among the Republicans voting for the measure were House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Voting "no" were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to accept same-sex marriages recognized under other states’ laws. After then-President Bill Clinton signed DOMA, about 40 states banned same-sex marriage. DOMA was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), a ruling that held that the 14th Amendment requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriage.
“I’ve been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion,” Graham told CNN.
“I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters here I trust to define marriage and to deal with [the] issue of abortion and not nine people on the court. That’s my view.”
The proposed Respect for Marriage Act is a distraction from the problems Americans are really facing, Graham says.
“We’re talking about things that don't happen because you don't want to talk about inflation; you don't want to talk about crime," he said, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) at his side.
“This Supreme Court has indicated it has a hit list, beginning with marriage equality, contraception, possibly others as well, Loving v. Virginia,” the senator said.