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Which Lone Democratic Senator Isn't Attached to the Federal Marriage Bill?

Which Lone Democratic Senator Isn't Attached to the Federal Marriage Bill?


Is it possible for the last Senate Democrat to flip his stance on marriage equality?

When the Senate reconvened this week, Dianne Feinstein and her Democratic colleagues reintroduced a bill that would establish full federal recognition for all same-sex marriages. All of her colleagues -- except one.

West Virginia senator Joe Manchin is currently the only Democrat who is not a cosponsor of the bill. Three other senators -- Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota -- joined as cosponsors days after the bill was introduced.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing any marriages between same-sex couples. While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled part of DOMA unconstitutional in the landmark 2013 Windsor decision, the law is still on the books. The Human Rights Campaign says DOMA continues to prevent families and married couples from accessing certain rights and responsibilities heterosexual couples are afforded.

HRC government affairs director David Stacy says Manchin has never supported marriage equality outright, but he has supported other LGBT-focused legislation.

"Although Sen. Joe Manchin has not yet supported marriage equality for same-sex couples, he voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, for re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act that protects LGBT people, and for numerous openly LGBT nominees for federal judge and administrative positions," Stacy told The Advocate Friday. "HRC will continue to work with West Virginians to encourage Senator Manchin to reconsider his marriage position and to support the full repeal of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act."

Manchin, whose staff did not respond to a request for comment, is the only remaining Democrat in office after the 2014 election who has not supported a bill establishing full marriage equality. Last session, he was joined by former senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Both of them lost their bids for reelection last year.

In 2013, Manchin shared why he did not support marriage equality with Reddit users.

"I was raised in little Farmington, West Virginia, and I don't believe in any aspect of discrimination," he said. "With that being said, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I know that might be [different] from other people, but that's my view."

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