By: Phoebe Shi
Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin, who became the first openly gay congresswoman in 1999, is fighting to win the support of ten Republican senators necessary for the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect same-sex marriage rights at a time when they are at risk.
Last month, on a flight home from Washington, Baldwin found out that Ron Johnson, her fellow senator from Wisconsin, supports the Respect for Marriage act. She quickly sent him message to say she was thrilled. Despite their opposing perspectives, they are able to agree on this topic.
Five out of the ten Republicans Democrats need have stated they would support the act. These are Johnson, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Thom Tillis. Along with this, Baldwin says, at least five other Republicans have assured her privately that they will also support the bill when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brings it to the Senate floor.
Baldwin has also worked with Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, to pass the bill.
Sinema is the second openly queer woman to be elected to the Senate. She spoke to Johnson on the Senate floor before Baldwin texted him, and was also working closely with Tillis and Portman.
Baldwin said, “I started talking with others, and it went from hypothetical to, ‘We could really do this.’”