Biden Signs Legislation Safeguarding LGBTQ Marriage Rights
Biden signs legislation safeguarding LGBTQ marriage rights. At a ceremony held on December 13, 2022, in the Oval Office of the White House, United States President Joe Biden declared, "Today is a good day" before signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law.
Legislation that protects same-sex and interracial marriage in the United States has been signed into law by President Joe Biden, a move that has been hailed by rights advocates as an important step in the midst of fears of a potential rollback and threats against communities that have been historically marginalized.
During a ceremony that took place on the White House lawn on Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Biden signed the landmark bill, which is known as the Respect for Marriage Act, into law. The event was attended by thousands of supporters, including top Democratic legislators.
Biden expressed gratitude to those individuals who had worked tirelessly over the years to promote "equality and justice" in the United States:
Today is a good day. A day America takes a vital step towards equality, towards liberty and justice not just for some, but for everyone – everyone. This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms, and that’s why this law matters to every single American, no matter who you are and who you love- Joe Biden
After a successful vote in the US Senate at the end of November, the legislation that was supported by both sides of the political aisle was approved by the House of Representatives in the United States on December 8.
See video report below.
Biden signs bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriage
This law "repeals and replaces" an existing federal law that defines marriage as being between individuals of different sexes and prohibits states from denying "out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin."
After the conservative-majority US Supreme Court in June overturned longstanding abortion rights, which sparked fears over potential moves to curb same-sex and interracial marriage as well, Democratic and Republican legislators came together to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. The act requires states to recognize marriages between people of different races or sexual orientations.
In a concurring opinion in the case that overturned the landmark Roe v Wade abortion rights decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested reconsidering other decisions, including gay marriage legalization.
Obergefell v Hodges, a 2015 Supreme Court decision, legalized same-sex unions nationwide, while Loving v Virginia, a 1967 ruling, overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriage in 16 US states.
Biden said on Tuesday, referring to the decision to overturn Roe:
Congress is acting because an extreme Supreme Court has stripped away the right important to millions of Americans that existed for half a century.- Joe Biden
Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay person to hold the position of White House Press Secretary, called the legislation "historic" ahead of Tuesday's signing ceremony.
She said on Monday:
The law will give peace of mind to millions of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples who will finally be guaranteed the rights and protections to which they and their children are entitled.- Karine Jean-Pierre
Since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples have married. In recent decades, public acceptance has grown dramatically, with polls now showing a strong majority of people supporting same-sex marriage.
However, some conservatives and members of the religious right remain opposed. Lawmakers crafted a compromise to appease conservative concerns about religious liberty, such as allowing churches to continue refusing to perform gay marriages.
Furthermore, states will be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They will, however, be required to recognize marriages performed elsewhere in the country.
Although a majority of Republicans in Congress voted against the legislation, it received enough support in the Senate to avoid a filibuster and ensure its passage.
US Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said during Tuesday’s ceremony, thanking fellow legislators for their efforts:
For millions of LGBTQ Americans, today is a historic day, a day of jubilation, and a day of relief. By enacting this law we are sending a message to LGBTQ Americans everywhere: You, too, deserve dignity. You, too, deserve equality.- Chuck Schumer
The legislation was passed amid growing concerns about violence against LGBTQ communities in the United States, as well as Black people and other minority groups, and growing calls for authorities to combat far-right incitement.
A man was charged with hate crimes earlier this month after going on a shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people.
Laurel Powell, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group based in Washington, recently told Al Jazeera:
We are living in a time where there is this rising threat of violence from extreme far-right groups across the spectrum of marginalised communities.- Laurel Powell
It also comes at a time when several US states are pushing anti-transgender legislation. Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBTQ elders, welcomed the new law in a statement on Tuesday:
The message must be loud and clear – LGBTQ+ people are entitled to the same dignity, rights and protections as all Americans. And we must all keep working until that goal is fully realized.- Michael Adams