U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that states, not Congress, should decide the legality of same-sex marriage, similar to how the Supreme Court last month sent the decision on abortion rights back to the states.
The Democratic-controlled House last week passed the so-called Respect of Marriage Act, seeking to codify Supreme Court precedents legalizing same-sex and interracial marriages.
South Carolina House Republican Reps. Nancy Mace, of Daniel Island, and Tom Rice, of Myrtle Beach, joined Democrats last week to pass legislation codifying same-sex and interracial marriages.
The bill needs the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass in the evenly divided U.S. Senate. When the Senate may vote on the bill is not known.
Graham said last week he would not support the bill. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. has not commented on the bill.
“I respect the voters in South Carolina, and I’m going to allow this issue, with my vote in Washington, to be decided by them,” Graham told reporters in Greenville during a news conference on Monday.
In the court’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling — which overturned Roe v. Wade — Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion that other precedents, including the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case which legalized same-sex marriage across the country, should be revisited.
“I believe the same-sex marriage case to be the law of the land, it’s still the the law. I respect the decision, while I disagree with the legal analysis,” Graham said.
The Dobbs case allows each state to decide whether abortion is legal within its own borders.
“That’s the way it was before 1973. I think that’s the best way to go,” Graham said. “The best way to go for me about marriage would be using the same type of system.”
Republicans have joined Democrats’ push to protect the right for same-sex marriage and interracial marriage, which was legalized by the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling.
Graham said the legislative moves made by Democrats is nothing more than to help them in the upcoming midterm elections.
“This is an issue, I think, to generate voter intensity for our Democratic colleagues. These are issues that are emotional issues,” Graham said. “There is a standing constitutional case that protects same-sex marriage. The fear that may be overturned tomorrow, I don’t share.”