Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) confronted her Republican colleague Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday for saying it was a “stupid waste of time” to vote on a bill that protected rights to same-sex marriage, she told CNN the following day.
Rubio made the comment within earshot of Baldwin, the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate. The Senate may take up a bill to codify same-sex marriage protections, which could be under threat by the conservative Supreme Court that recently overturned the right to an abortion.
The two senators then rode the elevator together, where Baldwin explained to Rubio how wrong he was.
“You probably would have loved to be on the elevator to see the exchange after,” Baldwin told CNN of her encounter with Rubio.
“I said that, ‘The recent Supreme Court decision eroded a constitutional right to privacy. There’s a whole bunch of cases that have been decided based on a constitutional right to privacy that are in jeopardy,’ which he disagrees with,” she continued. “And anyways, I said we’ll be talking some more.”
While Baldwin kept Rubio’s private response secret, she said she was “counting” votes for when the bill eventually heads to the Senate floor. She predicted Democrats would have 10 Republican votes in order to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation.
Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the conversation.
The House of Representatives successfully voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect same-sex marriage, on July 19 with a vote of 267 to 157. Every Democrat voted in favor of the bill, along with 47 of the chamber’s 211 Republicans.
It will have to be passed by the Senate in order to become law, however, and comes at a busy time, with an August recess occurring in less than two weeks.
Many Republicans, Rubio included, have insisted there is no threat to same-sex marriage and that voting to protect it is unnecessary. Justice Samuel Alito’s majority Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade stated that other rulings regarding the right to privacy, such as same-sex marriage, would not be affected by the reversal.
But one of Alito’s colleagues suggested otherwise. Justice Clarence Thomas stated in a concurrence to the abortion decision that other precedents including Obergefell v. Hodges — which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide — should be revisited.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he hopes to bring the bill to the floor and was “impressed by how much bipartisan support the bill got in the House,” according to CNN.