North Carolina Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr were among 11 Republicans who voted with Democrats Thursday night for a non-binding budget amendment that would give legally married same-sex spouses Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned, and ensure them equal treatment under the law.
The measure passed 57-43 during the Senate’s “vote-o-rama” on more than 50 amendments put forward by senators to a Republican-backed budget outline.
Tillis has been a supporter of North Carolina’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
His press secretary, Meghan Burris, explained why Tillis voted as he did this way:
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“The amendment was simply a matter of the fair application of the law. If a veteran has served our country and is in a relationship that is legally recognized by a state, the federal government - in fairness, and out of respect for the policies each state sets for itself - should apply the law the same way for each and every veteran, regardless of whether Sen. Tillis supports the decision made by another state relating to marriage,” she said.
Among the other 10 Republicans who joined all Democrats in voting for the measure, six face elections in 2016, including Burr.
The others voting yes who are heading into campaigns are Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio. The other Republican yes votes were from Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Dean Heller of Nevada and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.