Bucking the trend: The House Democrats who oppose gay marriage

Eleven House Democrats are on record as opposing gay marriage, even as support within their party for the issue builds.

Another nine haven't taken definitive positions in support of or against gay marriage.

President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonComey: Trump's 'Spygate' claims are made up Clapper: Trump distorting my comments is Orwellian Mueller probing Roger Stone's finances: report MORE and a number of Democratic senators have flipped on the issue, and a majority of voters support gay marriage according to polls.

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But the issue remains politically thorny, and even in the relatively liberal House Democratic conference there are pockets of opposition to same-sex marriage.

Nine Democrats who voted in 2011 to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to gay couples haven't publicly changed their positions: Reps. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — New details on Trump's drug pricing plan Repeating history with octane biofuel standards is a huge mistake May brings key primaries across nation MORE (Texas), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonUtah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Trump's budget targets affordable, reliable power Work begins on T infrastructure plan MORE (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE (W.Va.).

Another two freshmen Democrats voiced opposition to same-sex marriage during their 2012 campaigns: Reps. Bill Enyart (Ill.) and Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoIraq War vet wins Texas Dem runoff Texas Democrats smell blood in the water for 2018 ObamaCare repeal vote: 15 GOP lawmakers to watch MORE (Texas).

The nine Democrats who haven’t taken a definitive position on gay marriage are Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.), Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindLobbying world Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Three Republicans join climate change caucus MORE (Wis.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), David Scott (Ga.), Terry Sewell (Ala.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Pete Visclosky (Ind.) and freshman Filemon Vela (Texas).

Five of these Democrats hail from districts that voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, and they are perennial GOP targets: Barrow, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson and Rahall. Obama narrowly carried Enyart’s district.

Many other members represent minority-majority districts. Both African-American and Hispanic-American constituencies have historically been more opposed to gay marriage. Yet other members who represent districts with such populations do support gay marriage. 

The Hill contacted all 20 offices this week as the Supreme Court considered two gay marriage cases and several Democratic senators made headlines by announcing their support for gay marriage. 

Matheson, Rahall, and Gallego’s offices said they continue to oppose legalizing gay marriage.

Green said the choice should be left to the individual states but didn’t address DOMA, which he’d voted to uphold, or say whether he personally supported gay marriage.

Richmond told The Hill in a statement that he is “a firm proponent of equal rights” and thinks DOMA is unconstitutional, but didn’t expressly endorse legalizing gay marriage. His office said they had nothing more to offer on the matter when asked if that meant he backed gay marriage or just civil unions.

The rest of the offices did not respond to requests for comment.

Sewell said in 2010 that she supported gay rights but expressed a preference for civil unions over gay marriage. 

Thompson and Scott voted for an amendment to the Constitution that would have banned gay marriage in 2006. They also are among the 29 Democrats who didn’t sign a 2012 "friend of the court" brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA, though both voted against DOMA when it came up for a vote in 2011.

Nine of those 29 Democrats now say they support gay marriage: Reps. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonLawmakers planning hearings over deadly Niger attack Record number of black women running for office in Alabama after Roy Moore defeat Florida Democrat: '80 percent' of the US agrees with students on gun control MORE (D-Fla.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenDems win nail-biter in charity congressional soccer game Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' Free traders applaud Trump as China tariff threat recedes MORE (D-Wash.), Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth Butterfield'Diamond & Silk' offer chance for bipartisan push back on social media censorship Live coverage: Zuckerberg faces second day on Capitol Hill Senate passes bill to end shutdown, sending it to House MORE (D-N.C.) and Ruben HinojosaRuben Elroy HinojosaTurning the tables to tackle poverty and homelessness in rural America Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts Dems heap praise on Pelosi for trade moves MORE (D-Texas).

“Like many Americans, my views have evolved over time and I believe that committed adults – be them gay or straight – deserve to marry the person they love,” Butterfield told The Hill in a statement this week that represented his first public support for gay marriage.

Hinojosa was in Congress in 2006 but didn’t vote on the amendment, and voted against DOMA in 2011. His office this week said he supported gay marriage, the first time he appears to have publicly done so.

Cooper, who has been married for 28 years, said he and his wife believe people in committed relationships should be able to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.

“Marriage is good,” Cooper said in a statement. “To prevent others who are serious about becoming a legally recognized couple seems like discrimination.”

Watt said he supports gay marriage and there had been “evolution” in his thinking but it didn’t happen recently. He explained that he hasn’t publicized the issue outside of his district.

“People should be able to marry whoever they want to,” he said. “We should treat all citizens alike.”

—Mario Trujillo contributed


DEMOCRATS WHO OPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE:

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.)

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.)

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.)

Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Texas)

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas)

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah)

Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.)

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)


DEMOCRATS WHO HAVEN’T TAKEN A DEFINITIVE POSITION ON GAY MARRIAGE:

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.)

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas)

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.)

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.)

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)

Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)

Rep. Terry Sewell (D-Ala.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.)

--This report was updated on April 11 at 9:03 p.m.