Joe Biden Signs Respect for Marriage Act Into Law, Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage (UPDATE)

After passing in the United States Senate last month, the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex marriage, has been passed in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D CA) holds up a copy of the text for the Respect For Marriage Act

Image via Getty/Anna Moneymaker

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D CA) holds up a copy of the text for the Respect For Marriage Act

UPDATED 12/14 1:00 p.m. ET: President Joe Biden has signed legislation that protects same-sex marriages nationwide.

“Today, America takes a vital step toward equality, toward liberty and justice, not just for some, but for everyone,” said Biden, per USA Today. “Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity, and love are recognized, honored, and protected.” Biden signed the bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday. The legislation means that all states are legally required to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages.

"For most of our nation's history, we denied interracial couples and same-sex couples from these protections," said the president. "We failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect. Now the law requires interracial marriage and same-sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation."

The law was pushed by lawmakers to stop the Supreme Court from overturning the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriages in 2015. Many highlighted the importance to codify the rights of LGBTQ+ and interracial marriage rights following Associate Justice Clarence Thomas’ call to have the Supreme Court “reconsider” other rights after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

See original story below.

After passing in the United States Senate last month, the bill protecting same-sex marriage has been passed in the House.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives signed off on the legislation, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The currently Democrat-controlled House voted 258-169 to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, following the victory for LGBTQ+ legislation in the Senate last month. The House will change to Republican control next year, but 39 House Republicans supported the measure alongside all of the Democrats. 

“Your love is your choice,” said House Majority leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday, per NBC News. Hoyer added that there is “no reason” for Supreme Court appointees to change precedents on LGBTQ+ rights following the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year. “The pursuit of happiness means you can love whom you choose,” he said. “I am shocked that conservatives that have a libertarian bent believe that somehow we ought to get involved in this. It’s not the government’s business.”

The bill faced amendments that delayed the process due to Senate GOP demands, including clarification that the government does not need to protect polygamous marriages, and religious organizations aren’t legally required to perform same-sex marriages. The revisions forced the House to vote on the bill again, despite passing an earlier version back in July.

“It’s a sign of enormous political change in America,” said former Rep. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress. “And it’s meaningful for people. It’s real. It’s not a symbolic gesture. I know a lot of married gay and lesbian people who have been worried ever since Clarence Thomas said what he said. So this is reassurance to them as well.” 

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