Updated 12:22 a.m. | The Senate endorsed Social Security and veterans benefits for married gay couples Thursday night in a 57-43 vote, with 11 Republicans joining every Democrat.
The amendment slowed down the vote-a-rama, with a group of Republicans huddled in the well and at times talking to sponsor Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
The nonbinding amendment to the budget resolution still falls short of the 60 votes needed to beat back filibusters in the chamber. Among those voting late after a lengthy delay against providing equal benefits to married gay couples were Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa.
The Republicans backing equal benefits for gay couples were:
Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Tillis struck some in the gallery as a surprise. Johnson's fellow Wisconsin senator, Tammy Baldwin, is the first openly lesbian member of the Senate; he faces a tough re-election fight next year, as does Kirk, Portman, Burr and Ayotte.
Portman notably previously came out in support of gay marriage after making public his son is gay.
"Gay couples legally married in any state should be entitled to veterans and Social Security benefits identical to any other married couples," Schatz said in a statement. "Tonight, eleven Republicans joined Democrats in recognizing that gay couples deserve equal treatment, regardless of where they live. We still have work to do to, but this is progress and a win for equal rights. I thank Senator Murray and Senator Shaheen for their leadership on this important issue.”
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