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Opposites Attract

Opposites Attract

A deal expected to pass the Senate today on same-sex marriage proves compromise is possible even in today’s partisan Washington environment. 

The passage of the Respect for Marriage Act will be the most significant progress for LGBTQ Americans on the Hill since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

When the Supreme Court overturned a constitutional right to an abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas raised alarms in the LGBTQ community by suggesting the Court should also reconsider the right to gay marriage. 

If the court’s landmark 2015 decision is overruled, it leaves the still-on-the-books Defense of Marriage Act prohibiting same-sex marriage as the law of the nation, upending families across the country.

That’s why Congress is moving the Respect for Marriage Act, which will protect the legality of same-sex marriages. A bipartisan group of senators and coalitions have been working diligently behind the scenes to find agreement on language that would bring along Republican votes.

The crux of the deal? Making sure the new law wouldn’t take any current rights away from religious institutions and acknowledging explicitly that diverse beliefs about marriage and the people who hold them are due respect.

Religious groups including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the National Association of Evangelicals, among others, have publicly endorsed the amended version of the legislation. 

The pen isn't dry quite yet - the amended bill will have to return to the House for a vote, where it’s expected to quickly pass. 

The lesson, though, is clear: through respectful dialogue among diverse stakeholders, creating and passing bipartisan legislation is absolutely possible.

By the Numbers

Speaking Their Language

DC policy influencers are a powerful audience segment. The key to successfully targeting this group is understanding their media consumption habits, which have shifted dramatically over the past few years. 

Data shows that trust in the media has declined since the start of the pandemic, as influencers maintain that news and media in Washington are partisan. Yet, with a growing number of new media outlets, digital consumption is on the rise. Recent studies give insight into shifting behaviors to help us formulate effective digital strategies. 

FGS Global partner Basis Technologies shared their research on the best way to reach policy influencers: 

  • Research shows a 20% increase in time spent on social networks since 2019. DC insiders have increasingly turned to LinkedIn and Twitter in particular (we’ll see if this holds post-Musk).

  • DC insiders are integrating audio into daily news consumption as the commute returns. Podcast consumption will account for over 25% of digital audio ad spending in 2022. 

  • Newsletter readership has remained steady with 50% of insiders reading e-newsletters for Washington-focused news at least once per day. 

  • National and Beltway media brands remain the most trusted sources for news and information. Leading brands include The Washington Post, Politico, and The New York Times, with over half of policy elites relying on these three sources. 

  • COVID-19 accelerated streaming TV viewership and, for the first time ever, streaming surpassed cable in July 2022. 1 in 3 DC influencers anticipate using a streaming media device more often than they did last year. 

    • Strategy Consideration: Sunday Morning slots have shown a 4% year-over-year growth in viewership.

Getting Ducks in a Row

Washington loves a countdown clock, and the election has delivered several for the lame duck session of the current Congress before newly elected legislators take over in the new year. 

There are seven days until the Georgia run-off, 17 days until the government runs out of money and about 23 until the real jet fumes start burning to take policymakers home for the holidays. 

With divided government looming in January, lawmakers look ready to approve several major pieces of legislation before Congress adjourns for the year. Bipartisan bills that would recognize the validity of same-sex marriage, reform how electoral votes are counted and set the defense budget could see action in the coming weeks.  

However, the road gets tougher—and more partisan—when it comes to approving government fundingretirement security and tax issues—to say nothing about the Biden Administration’s continued interest in Congress increasing the national debt limit or intervening in the potential rail strike

With this long list of unfinished business, there appears to be one thing we can predict: Lawmakers are likely to pass a one-week extension of government funding (which expires on December 16) and then it will be a sprint to the finish just in time to catch the last flight home before the holidays.

November 29, 2022
By Nedra Pickler and Irene Moskowitz
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