North Dakota's Hoeven, Cramer vote against law to protect gay marriage rights
Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer cited concerns about infringement of religious freedom in their votes against enshrining gay marriage rights in federal law.
FARGO — Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota joined most other Republicans in voting against a procedural vote that is seen as an important step in protecting same-sex marriage rights in federal law.
North Dakota’s two senators were not among 12 Republicans who joined all 50 Democrats, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota, who voted on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in support of a key test vote to advance repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in order to protect gay marriage rights under federal law.
Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of the Respect for Marriage Act are among bills Democrats are moving quickly to pass while they still hold majorities in both the House and Senate.
Cramer said the federal government should stay out of marriage.
“Today’s vote is the first step leading to the normalization of religious discrimination, and it’s a bridge too far,” he said in a statement. “The Respect for Marriage Act opens up religious institutions and non-profits to senseless litigation challenging the First Amendment liberties enshrined in our Constitution.”
Marriage is an institution of the church, and the federal government shouldn’t intrude, Cramer said.
“I wish the federal government never got involved in the marriage business in the first place,” he said. “Marriage is instituted by God and enforced by His church, it should have stayed that way.”
Wednesday’s 62 to 37 vote was on a procedural question that would open the way for a final vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enshrine marriage equality under federal law. Final passage could come as early as Thursday.
Hoeven said he's concerned that the bill to protect gay marriage in federal statue threatens religious freedom.
“Same-sex marriage is protected under the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision and the Fourteenth Amendment,” Hoeven said in a statement. “My concern with this bill is that it doesn’t adequately protect religious freedom, that includes both individuals and businesses based on sincerely-held religious beliefs, as well as religious organizations.”