Midwestern pioneer lobbying Republicans on same-sex marriage

But after Justice Clarence Thomas contemplated reconsideration Obergefell v. Hodges Judgment as the next step after the court Roe v. Wade Reversed, and 47 House Republicans supported the marriage equality bill, Baldwin received a huge task from the Senate majority leader. Chuck Schumer. He’s close to the halfway mark the GOP needs to break a filibuster, with five Republican senators signaling support for same-sex marriage legislation — but finding the next five will be even harder. .

Baldwin spoke with more than 10 Republican senators before the Senate left Washington on Thursday and plans to continue his outreach over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the discussions. He declined to divulge too much about his sensitive discussions with the opposing side on an issue that painfully divides them, but made it clear that he feels good about their discussions. have been

“They’re going well. And I feel optimistic and I’ll have to make some more calls,” said Baldwin, who has been handing out cards with key points about the bill to GOP members on the fence. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people, but the ones I think want to go are yes.”

It’s one of the most public moments of the soft-spoken Wisconsinite’s Senate career so far. Baldwin has won two full terms in a brutal battleground on the strength of his brand, which is a combination of libertarianism and a focus on America’s blue-collar workers. Yet she stays out of the spotlight most of the time — in stark contrast to the conservative bombshell, Wisconsin’s senior senator. Ron Johnson.

But voting in the culturally conservative Senate Republican Conference is nothing new for Baldwin. She was a key player in the chamber’s passage of a nondiscrimination bill in 2013, which garnered enough GOP support to create a filibuster-proof majority for same-sex marriage nine years later.

Baldwin formed a civil union with her Then partner That was before Wisconsin recognized same-sex marriage in 2014. Still, according to Schumer, she doesn’t maintain her status as the first openly gay senator: “She doesn’t have to. People know. And she doesn’t like to wear it on her sleeve. But people do.” Know, deep down, she cares.

“He has a combination of being very nice and really liked by members. But on issues that he’s passionate about, he’s very committed,” said the New York Democrat.

Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said Baldwin’s LGBTQ identity doesn’t color his work on the same-sex marriage bill: “I don’t see that as a relevant factor, to tell you the truth. He’s a senator.”

Although she comes across as a more serious-minded legislator, Baldwin finds a sense of humor about her under-the-radar status: In a video with Sen Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a fellow Midwestern progressive woman, declared that “we are not the same people.” She serves on Schumer’s leadership team and has been known to step up to the caucus when Democrats need someone to preside over the Senate floor, a job often seen as pure hard work. Is.

And as progressive as she is, Baldwin steers clear of incendiary attacks on Republicans. His style probably won’t involve shaming them into supporting his bill on the floor.

“He’s not here to focus on that,” Sen said. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) “It’s not about Tommy.”

Baldwin isn’t the only one whipping the same-sex marriage initiative across the finish line. Schumer said he had spoken with aides Collins and Sen. Thomas Tillis (RN.C.) about it, and Sens. Kristen Cinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are also working behind the scenes to get the bill across the finish line.

feeling Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Johnson, who faces a tough re-election race this fall, are currently battling potential GOP supporters. Asked if he had spoken to Baldwin about the bill, Johnson smiled and shook his head no.

Unlike other politically thorny issues, the same-sex marriage initiative does not have a bipartisan Senate effort to pass it. Instead, the focus is on Republicans who have LGBTQ friends, family or staff and may be convinced to support straight legislation based on their personal connections, according to people involved in the effort.

In an evenly divided Senate, Baldwin left no stone unturned. She was attached to conservative sensibilities. Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Thursday, expanded his reach into the GOP.

“She’s working on the bill,” Sen said. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the subject of some Democratic lobbying efforts.

Given the split on the issue in the GOP, a workhorse like Baldwin might be just what Democrats need to pull off a surprise win in a rocky year of legislative setbacks on their agenda. If she and her allies in both parties can get the handful of extra votes they need to pass the bill, Schumer will almost certainly put it on the floor and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.

He has a lot of work to do: Several undecided Republican senators say they have yet to talk to him about the issue. But people close to Baldwin say he will eventually succeed.

“We all know what it is. It’s straightforward,” Tellis said. “Member-to-member communication is the best way to arrive at the vote count. Which I think will exceed 10. [Republicans]”