Biden signs same-sex marriage protections into law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a bill granting federal protections to same-sex marriage on Tuesday, with a large crowd of guests gathered at the White House to celebrate the legislative milestone.
Biden — who as vice president took a public stand in favor of same-sex unions long before they became legal in the United States in a 2015 Supreme Court ruling — touted the landmark law as a victory in terms of rights.
“America is taking a vital step toward equality, for freedom and justice, not just for some, but for everyone,” he said at the signing ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
After the now far more conservative U.S. Supreme Court struck down longstanding abortion rights last June, lawmakers on the left and right have come together to block any further action to restrict rights. to same-sex marriage.
The final passage of the legislation by Congress last week marked a rare display of bipartisanship in a deeply divided Washington.
To celebrate, Biden sat down with a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the grounds of the White House, as well as lawyers and plaintiffs in marriage equality cases across the country.
Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay US senator, said she was “overwhelmed with joy” as she signed the law, which she helped draft in Congress.
“Today we are making history and making a difference for millions of Americans,” she said in a statement.
“We tell millions of gay and interracial couples that we see them and respect them.”
The legislation, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, “will bring peace of mind to millions of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples who will finally be guaranteed the rights and protections that they and their children have the right “.
Jean-Pierre herself made history as the first openly gay White House press secretary.
Hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples have married since the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing unions in the United States.
Public acceptance has increased dramatically over the past few decades, with polls now showing that a strong majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.
But some conservatives and the religious right remain opposed.
The new legislation, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage, but does require states to recognize a marriage as long as it was valid in the state where it was solemnized. .
It repeals previous legislation defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and also protects interracial couples by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
In the House of Representatives, 39 Republicans joined a united Democratic majority in supporting the bill, while 169 Republicans voted against it. It had previously been passed in the Senate, evenly, by 61 votes to 36.
Jean-Pierre said Monday that Biden believes “there is still a lot of work to be done to protect LGBTQI+ people across the country.”
She recalled that the 80-year-old Democrat was among the first American political leaders to publicly support same-sex unions at the highest levels of government.
In 2012, Biden caused a stir by outspokenly declaring his support for same-sex unions – as Barack Obama’s White House was still figuring out how best to formalize the president’s position as he seeks re-election to a second term.
After his own presidential election in 2020, Biden tapped Pete Buttigieg to become his transportation secretary — the first openly gay person to be confirmed by the Senate for a cabinet post.
And beyond the issue of marriage, the Biden administration has taken a strong stance in support of LGBTQ rights — especially toward the transgender community whose push for more rights has become a political flashpoint in the country.
The administration introduced gender-neutral passports — allowing people who do not identify as either male or female to select gender “X” — and it lifted the ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, introduced under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.


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