Josh Hawley comes out against landmark Obergefell ruling as Senate considers marriage equality bill
Republican senator Josh Hawley. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said that he didn't support the marriage equality decision in 2015 when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

The landmark Supreme Court decision came as a result of Ohio's refusal to recognize the marriage of Jim Obergefell on the death certificate of his husband after he died. Obergefell and his husband were married in another state where it was legal but Ohio refused to recognize the marriage due to its own 2004 Defense of Marriage Act, modeled off of the national law passed in 1996.

According to Hawley, the decision shouldn't have been up to the Supreme Court because marriage is a state-rights issue. What the court addressed at the time is the inter-state conflict.

"The problem with Obergefell is that I don't think there is any constitutional basis for the Supreme Court to say 'this is what the definition of marriage is according to the Constitution. I don't think the Constitution has marriage in it,'" Hawley told Raw Story. "And I think the states — traditionally that has been — because the definition of marriage, that has been a big controversy in this country all around the country. And the states have defined it one way or another and I think that that's the right difference."

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He went on to say that the Supreme Court went too far and we should "let the states do it the way they want to do it."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) agreed with Hawley, saying that states decide marriages. "You can get married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator in two hours."

Neither Rubio nor Hawley clarified whether they supported the interracial marriage ruling the Supreme Court decided in 1967. In that case, too, the couple was married in an area of the country where interracial marriage was legal. When they moved to Virginia, where it was illegal, they were charged with violating the state's anti-miscegenation statute, found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison unless they agreed to exile.

In both Loving and Obergefell, the Supreme Court justices ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to recognize the marriages granted in other states.

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation to protect marriage rights for same-sex couples in the wake of Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill to eliminate the Defense of Marriage Act and codify marriage equality in the national statutes. He is one of at least four Republicans willing to support the marriage equality bill.

Another is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who told reporters, "I have long been a supporter of equality in marriage."

But Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said that it was a pointless bill because "the law isn't changing and there's no indication that it will." When Raw Story asked him about Justice Clarence Thomas opening that door, Romney said, "well, he's opened a lot of doors that no other judges have walked through."

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told reporters asking him about the law that same-sex marriage "is the law of the land."

"So was Roe, but Roe no longer is," Raw Story said back to him. Grassley refused to respond.

"We don’t know if that bill is coming to the Senate," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in a conversation with ABC News' T.J. Holmes. "They did pass a bill on the House last night and if and when Sen. Schumer decides to bring it up in the Senate, we will consider is that time but as you saw there was a fairly significant vote, bipartisan vote last night in the House of Representatives and I would be surprise­­­d if that were the case in the Senate. But we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it."

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said that the law is important right now because of the Supreme Court and Thomas' decision.

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"I think we should take conservatives at their word," said Schatz.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agreed, calling the Supreme Court "reactionary," and saying that there's a clear "willingness to go after the rights of the American people."

"It's not the first time we've seen — let me start by saying part of this is prompted by Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision," explained Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) when asked about the 157 Republicans who voted against the marriage equality bill in the House. But she's pleased with progress on the law. "Just look at how other stuff the party has been with the majority sentiment of the nation on abortion, on guns, etc. But we're seeing progress on this and I'll take progress."

Baldwin went on to call the Supreme Court an "activist court" noting that most courts would rule based on the Obergefell decision.

With additional reporting from Matt Laslo.