WASHINGTON — President Biden will sign the Respect Marriage Act Tuesday, which will require federal recognition of same-sex marriages and cap his own personal evolution toward embracing gay rights over the course of a political career. four decades.
The historic law, passed by a bipartisan coalition in Congressofficially erases the Defense of Marriage Act, which a quarter-century ago defined marriage between a man and a woman, and prohibits states from denying the validity of out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, or ethnicity.
The White House invited several thousand guests to an elaborate signing ceremony on the South Lawn, complete with musical performances, as the president celebrates the passage of what officials call a “landmark bill.”
For Biden, who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act as a senator in 1996 and hesitated to allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, the signing ceremony will be an indication of how much the president has changed when it comes to defending LGBTI equality.
The president was unequivocal in his support for the new legislation, saying earlier this year that he was confident that “Republicans and Democrats can work together to ensure the fundamental right of Americans to marry the person they love.”
This is where the president is after the midterm elections.
But it’s also a sign of the ongoing fear that new gay rights may be fragile. The push for the law’s passage was fueled in part by the Supreme Court decision that struck down the right to abortion, in which Judge Clarence Thomas raised the possibility to use the same logic to reconsider decisions protecting marriage equality and contraceptive rights.
Opponents of the legislation argued that it would undermine family values in the United States and restrict the religious liberties of people who do not believe same-sex marriage is moral.
Supporters of the new law argued that Congress needed to be proactive in ensuring that a future Supreme Court ruling would not invalidate same-sex marriages across the country. In 2015, the court ruled in Obergefell vs. Hodges that all states must recognize same-sex marriages just as they would recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
Once a fiercely divisive political issue, same-sex marriage has won general approval in recent years, with polls showing 70 percent of Americans support him. That broad acceptance was the backdrop to a rare display of bipartisanship in Congress, where 61 senators and 258 House members voted to send the Respect Marriage Act to Biden’s desk for his signature.
By the time that happened, there was no doubt that the president would sign it. As a 2020 presidential candidate, he was an ardent supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage. He has appointed dozens of LGBTQ officials to positions in his administration, including Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. Some gay rights leaders have greeted him as the most pro-equality president of all time.
As vice president, Mr. Biden publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage to his boss, President Barack Obama, upsetting carefully planned plans for Mr. Obama’s re-election announcement. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2012, Mr. Biden said that “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men who marry men, women who marry women, and heterosexual men and women who marry each other have exactly the same rights, all civil rights.”
It was a significant moment, especially for one of the country’s most prominent Catholic politicians. The signing of the marriage bill on Tuesday is the latest evidence that any qualms Biden had during the early stages of his career have all but evaporated.
“On this day, Jill and I are thinking of the courageous couples and fiercely committed advocates who have fought for decades to ensure marriage equality nationwide on the Supreme Court and in Congress,” Biden said in a statement afterward. approval by the House last week. “We must never stop fighting for full equality for LGBTQI+ Americans and all Americans.”