CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito crossed the aisle during the Senate’s test vote for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine same-sex and interracial marriage protections into law, Wednesday.

The purpose of the test vote was to see if there would be enough Republicans willing to vote for the act to overcome the filibuster. In the Senate, at least 60 votes are needed for legislation to pass.

According to a press release from Sen. Capito’s office, the bill confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage, nor will their tax-exempt status be altered by the legislation.

Additionally, the release mentions that same-sex marriage became legal in West Virginia on Oct. 9, 2014, before Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made it legal federally.

With 62 yes and 37 no votes, the motion was agreed to, meaning that the legislation will advance. According to The Hill, lawmakers are expected to vote once again on Thursday to invoke cloture, setting up a final vote by the end of the week.

There were 11 other Republicans who voted yes:

  • Roy Blunt from Missouri
  • Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
  • Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Todd Young of Indiana

Senator Capito released the following statement about why she decided to vote for the legislation:

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court clearly stated that the federal judiciary should not be a policy-making entity. I firmly agreed with this decision, and continue to believe that major policy decisions should be made within Congress and state legislatures.

I appreciate my fellow West Virginians who have reached out to me regarding the sanctity of marriage, and hold sincere beliefs based on strong traditional and religious values. These convictions must be respected, and no religious entity should be persecuted by any individual, organization, or government institution for the beliefs they hold.

As such, this piece of legislation ensures all religious liberty and conscience protections provided to religious organizations under the Constitution and existing federal law, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any support for same-sex marriage, or see their benefits, rights, or status, altered when these rights do not arise from the specific issue of marriage.

This legislation will allow those who have entered into a civil partnership since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, to continue to have their partnerships respected for federal benefit purposes. This does not lessen the traditional sanctity of marriage or jeopardize the freedom of religious institutions. The House-passed legislation raised concerns among many about protecting religious freedoms, which is why my colleagues and I worked to strengthen those protections in the substitute amendment. I will be supporting the substitute amendment because it will ensure our religious freedoms are upheld and protected, one of the bedrocks of our democracy.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) joined fellow Democrats and released the following statement about why he voted yes:

Today’s bipartisan vote was consistent with what the Supreme Court has already ruled – same-sex marriage is constitutional. In addition, this legislation does not infringe on any religious liberties or conscience protections also consistent with our Constitution.

Sen. Joe Manchin