Speaking to a group of conservative Wisconsin voters last week, Johnson told an audience member that he released his July statement only “to get [the media] on my back” on the issue, according to audio obtained by Heartland Signal.
Johnson said he was ‘hounded’ by congressional reporters for his opinion on the Respect for Marriage Act, which Democrats passed as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade in June. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his agreement with the ruling that the High Court should also review previous rulings that have legalized the right for married couples to purchase and use contraception without government restriction (Griswold v. Connecticut), same-sex relationships (Lawrence v. Texas) and marriage equality (Oberfell v. Hodges).
“You have to understand the process here. You’re walking in the Capitol subway and all of a sudden you got off [upon] by the national press,” Johnson told a member of the public at the Sept. 1 meeting. “…You just get harassed on that shit, don’t you?” So, just to get rid of them, I wrote a press release. And I said I’ve always supported civil unions, I never thought we should do anything but that, but then the Supreme Court ruled [on abortion]and I just considered the matter settled.
Johnson added that he doesn’t think the Supreme Court will ever overturn Oberfell v. Hodges because of stare decisis, the idea that precedents should not be overturned without good reason – even if Roe vs. Wade had been overturned although several judges also agreed that it had been “settled as precedent”.
“Judge Thomas is probably correct in saying that [Obergefell] was wrongly decided, but whether the Supreme Court will overturn it or not is another matter. They never will,” Johnson said. “…With all these caveats, I’ve said at this point, I see no reason to object to them – to get them off my back, okay?”
NEW AUDIO: Ron Johnson turns around and says he won’t support same-sex marriage bill: ‘I said ‘at this point I see no reason to oppose it’ to get [media] on my back…I wouldn’t support him in his current state…I’m not happy for the Baldwins of the world to open this wound.” pic.twitter.com/ID2CFp3Ivg
— Signal Heartland (@HeartlandSignal) September 7, 2022
Johnson then said he would not support the Respect for Marriage Act “as it currently stands” due to concerns about religious freedoms, but said he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) were working together on “just a smoking amendment”. it would protect those freedoms.
“We’ll see where it goes from there,” he said. “… But at the same time, I also don’t want to see millions of lives turned upside down. For me, it was a decision that was healed. Let it go, okay? Carry on, okay? We have enough problems.
The audio ended with Johnson snapping a shot at fellow Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), who teamed up with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to push for the bill’s passage same-sex marriage law. Baldwin, the first lesbian woman elected to the Senate, has long been an advocate for LGBTQ rights.
“I’m not happy with the Baldwins of the world just reopening this wound and opening up this debate, okay?” says Johnson.
Asked for his comments on Thursday, Baldwin stressed the importance of passing the bill.
“The Supreme Court Overthrowing Roe vs. Wade challenged the same legal reasoning that was used in Love against Virginia and marriage equality,” she said. “People in real marriages are feeling a lot of uncertainty right now and that’s why we want to pass the Respect for Marriage Act.”
Johnson’s office has accused Democrats of fear mongering on a “solved” problem. The senator dismissed a reporter’s question Thursday about lives that were turned upside down after deer was overthrown.
“It looks like you can still get an abortion anywhere,” Johnson said.
The Respect for Marriage Act would require a person to be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was solemnized. The bill would also repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. . This law remained in force despite being declared unconstitutional by the Oberfell v. Hodges decision.
The bill would also protect interracial marriages, prohibiting states from not recognizing a marriage “on the basis of such persons’ sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
“People in same-sex and interracial marriages need and should know that their marriages are legal,” Baldwin and Collins wrote in a joint op-ed for The Washington Post on Tuesday. “We all have family, friends, colleagues or neighbors who are in these marriages. These partnerships deserve fairness and recognition, stability and marriage rights. They are an integral part of American life.