Biden Signs Law Codifying Same-Sex Marriage

In a momentous step forward for the LGBT community, President Joe Biden signed a historic bill on Tuesday granting new federal protections for same-sex and interracial couples. The bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act, rounds off a decade-long fight to secure and codify marriage rights for one of the nation’s most marginalized demographics.

Thousands of people gathered on the White House South Lawn in a grand ceremony to commemorate the Respect for Marriage Act becoming law.

“Today is a good day,” Biden declared as he took the podium after Vice President Kamala Harris. “A day America takes a vital step toward equality, for liberty and justice — not just for some, but for everyone. Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity and love are recognized, honored and protected.”

“For most of our nation’s history, we denied interracial couples and same-sex couples from these protections,” Biden said. “It failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect. And now, this law requires an interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation.”

The ceremony included performances from Grammy winners Sam Smith and Cyndi Lauper. Smith, who announced in 2019 they were nonbinary and use they/them pronouns, performed their hit song “Stay With Me.” Lauper, a longtime LGBT ally and founder of the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit that educates people on LGBT issues and helps homeless LGBT youth,  followed it up with her performance of “True Colors.”

“We can rest easy tonight because our families are validated,” Lauper said in the White House briefing room before her performance.  “And because now we’re allowed to love who we love, which sounds odd to say. But Americans can now love who we love and bless Joe Biden and all the people that worked on this … ” Lauper said. 

The new law officially voids the Defense of Marriage Act, which strictly defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Aside from legally recognizing same-sex marriage in every state, the new law also requires that states honor the validity of out-of-state marriage licenses, including same-sex and interracial unions.

In both chambers of Congress, the bill passed with bipartisan support after months of negotiations, particularly over Republican concerns with the provisions related to religion. The House voted last week 258-169 to send the bill to Biden’s desk after the Senate passed it with a 61-36 vote. 

“Folks, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia are all connected,” Biden highlighted in his speech. “But the antidote to hate is love … This law matters to every single American no matter who you are or who you love.”


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