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Johnson Votes Against Birth Control and Same-Sex Marriage

Congressman Dusty Johnson has voted against federal protection of the rights to same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and contraception this week. On Tuesday, South Dakota’s only voice in the House voted against H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act, which simply updates federal law to reflect precedents established on marriage rights in 1967, 2013, and 2015. Yesterday, Johnson voted against H.R. 8373, which codifies Supreme Court rulings from 1965, 1972, and 1977 candidates are guaranteeing our right to use birth control.

Congressman Johnson offers this justification for voting against your basic human rights:

“Access to contraception and gay marriage aren’t going anywhere,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “The bills the Democrat majority put on the floor this week, though, are rushed, overreaching attempts to play politics, and I can’t support them” [Lee Strubinger, “Johnson on ‘No’ Vote: Same-Sex Marriage ‘Not Going Anywhere’,” SDPB, 2022.07.20].

Rushed? Waiting decades to bring federal statute in line with case law is the opposite of rushed; it’s something Congress should have done a long time ago, before Dusty ever got to Washington… or in the case of interracial marriage, before Dusty and I were born.

Aren’t going anywhere? That’s what Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch told us about abortion rights. Are we supposed to treat basic human rights like pandemic preparedness and only take action when rights start falling like people with coronavirus? Even if we accept Dusty’s let’s wait for a crisis approach, the crisis is approaching: as Congressman Johnson surely knows, members of his own party in legislatures in multiple states are already proposing bills to limit access to contraception. 35 states still have unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage on their books; if the Alito Court applies its overreaching attempt to play politics to the Obergefell ruling (which, at only seven years old, is far more vulnerable to Alito’s logic of reversing “egregiously wrong” precedents than the 49-year-old Roe  v. Wade decision and the 30-year-old Casey decision), same-sex couples would find their unions illegal in most of the country.

Dusty’s been camping this summer, so he should understand this principle as well as anyone else: you don’t leave your tasty provisions—in this case, basic human rights—sitting out in the open until the bears wander into camp to eat them; you seal ‘em up tight in your bear canister and hang ‘em where those black (-robed) bears can’t get ‘em!

Dusty isn’t concerned about rushed legislation; you can bet that if his party seizes control of Congress and the White House in 2024, they’ll pass bills suiting their agenda as fast as they can. Congressman Johnson and his party are just holding the door open for the Alito Court to wreak all the havoc it can on human rights while preventing the Democratic Congress from providing statutory protections that could withstand the Court’s assault.

Interestingly, while Johnson’s colleague across the Rotunda, Senator Majority Whip John Thune, shares Johnson’s opposition to protecting birth control in federal law, Thune says protecting same-sex marriage might have a shot of passing the filibuster-hamstrung Senate:

Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said he believed a bill codifying gay marriage could receive enough Republican support to pass.

“I wouldn’t be surprised. We haven’t assessed that at all, yet,” he told reporters when asked if 10 Republicans could back such legislation. “But as a general matter, I think that is something people in the country have come to accept.”[Moira Warburton, “Top Democrats, Republicans in U.S. Senate See Chance for Bill Protecting Gay Marriage,” Reuters, 2022.07.20].

Hey, John—contraception has been settled case law for far longer than same-sex marriage, and there are a lot more people not just accepting but exercising their right not to make babies than their right to marry someone with the same baby-making equipment. If you’re saying enough “people in the country have come to accept” gay marriage to justify Republicans joining Democrats in protecting that basic human right, then a whole bunch more of your caucus should be jumping in bed with us Dems to protect birth control.

Hmm…could it be that Republicans’ misogyny is more deeply seated than their homophobia?


  1. Sheldon 2022-07-22 09:39

    To be fair, Dusty did vote in favor of bills that expanded oral contraceptives and he co-sponsored legislation safeguarding contraceptives. Being against the final legislation does not mean that he is against birth control or women’s rights…

  2. Loren 2022-07-22 09:59

    The Supreme Court justices lied about abiding by “settled law,” then over turned 50 years of “settled law,” saying these things weren’t in the Constitution and were wrongly decided in the first place. Sorta makes one take notice, especially when Clarence and Sam were almost begging for more cases on gay marriage, birth control, etc. So, Dusty, why am I gong to take your word for anything when you say not to worry. The Kangaroos on the court said the same thing. Hey, Dusty, I like beer! You like beer? GeezLouise! P.S. There was an article today about Walgreens cashiers denying birth control to patients because their religion conflicted with the prescription. Ya’ll see where this is headed without legislation? Wake up. people, especially your, Dusty!

  3. Dicta 2022-07-22 10:01

    This is a bit misleading. He is talking about time to review the proposed laws (for language, pork, etc.) His “politics” line is a straight up lie and I wish he hadnt said it. He would also do well to acknowledge why people are rushing given several justices hinting at overturning substantive due process cases. To me, he is kinda right while also ignoring many practical realities that have the public so riled.

  4. Eve Fisher 2022-07-22 10:08

    I wrote Dusty Johnson yesterday:
    I read that your comment regarding your “Nay” votes on both HR 8373 to Defend Access to Contraceptives and HR 8404 Respect for Marriage Act was: “access to contraception and gay marriage aren’t going anywhere.”
    Rep. Johnson, what planet are you living on? South Dakota just lost access to abortion for rape and incest, and Sanford Hospital is slowing down any treatment for life of the mother. Justice Alito said in his Opinion (as did Clarence Thomas in his) that next to go should be gay marriage. And, with 5 Catholic Justices, there’s a strong likelihood that contraception will be on the chopping block soon. There is a strong likelihood that, ahead of the November mid-terms, this SCOTUS will indeed shut down both.
    BTW, I do not believe that you can vote against an individual’s right to use contraception and still claim to believe in freedom. Nor can I believe that you can vote against legally married people’s right to remain married if SCOTUS cavalierly decides to strike down Obergefell and call yourself an upholder of family values.
    I am ashamed of your votes.

  5. Tim. 2022-07-22 10:43

    Also, don’t forget that the Respect for marriage act is also looking to codify Loving v. Virginia to legalize interracial marriages.

  6. bearcreekbat 2022-07-22 10:57

    If (more likely “when”) the current SCOTUS Trumpist right wing recruits decide that the US Constitution no longer provides protection to individuals from arbitrary and draconian state legislative decisions criminalizing birth control, gay marriage, interacial marriage, and other private matters currently protected under a Constitutional right of privacy, then it seems unclear from whence in the US Constitution the federal government could claim the power to enact statutes preventing any State from eliminating such highly private and important personal rights from individuals in that State.

    Thus, Johnson’s vote against the bill might actually be correct on the grounds that absent constitutional authority, Congress has no power to even address these imporant personal private matters – that power would be left by the Constitution solely to state legislatures.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-22 13:36

    Well…Dusty is starting to pile up some seniority in the House and with no opposition is likely to move up the totem pole. He is compliant with Republican House Leadership hoping to be rewarded with additional committee assignments and various perks. He won’t be breaking any new ground.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-07-22 14:28

    How are white people going to stay supreme in America if white babies are aborted, if white teens use condoms and i.u.d.’s, if white, same sex couples don’t make babies? 2045 people! That’s when white supremacy will slide that slippery slope to insignificance. Not in South Dakota, by gawd. *satire

  9. cibvet 2022-07-22 16:31

    Slowly, but surely we are sliding back to the Jim Crow era. Worked quite well for white privileged people.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-07-22 17:11

    Who knew he was after Clarence Thomas and Ginni? Ketanji Brown Jackson I can see, but Clarence?

  11. Caleb 2022-07-22 19:25

    Sex for privileged me, not for thee, sayeth the GOP.

  12. Jenny 2022-07-23 08:48

    It’s like a nightmare that never ends with Loony pubs. Contraception? I mean really? What angle are they thinking? This is getting freakier and freakier.
    Thank god I live in MN where women’s reproductive rights are still upheld. Vote Democrat in Nov to fight against the radical right wing agenda.

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