US President Joe Biden signed 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 stance in favor of same-sex unions long before they were legal across the United States in a 2015 Supreme Court decision, touted the landmark law as a victory for the rights.
“America is taking a vital step toward equality, freedom and justice, not just for some, but for all,” he said during the signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
After the now much more conservative U.S. Supreme Court struck down longstanding abortion rights last June, lawmakers on the left and right joined forces to block any further moves to curb abortion rights. same-sex marriage.
The final passage of the legislation by Congress last week marked a rare display of bipartisanship in deeply divided Washington.
To celebrate, Biden met with a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the White House grounds, along with advocates and plaintiffs in marriage equality cases across the country.
Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator, said she was “overjoyed” to sign the law, which she helped draft in Congress.
“Today, we are making history and making a difference for millions of Americans,” he said in a statement. “We are telling the millions of same-sex and interracial couples that we see them and respect them.”
The legislation, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, “will give peace of mind to millions of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples that they will finally be guaranteed the rights and protections to which they and their children are entitled.”
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 Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing unions across the United States.
Public acceptance has grown dramatically in recent decades, with polls showing that a large 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 it does require them to recognize a marriage as long as it is valid in the state where it took place.
It repeals previous legislation that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and also protects interracial couples by requiring states to recognize legal marriages without regard to “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin national”.
In the House of Representatives, 39 Republicans joined a united Democratic majority in supporting the bill, while 169 Republicans voted against it. It previously passed the Senate by a 61-36 vote.
Jean-Pierre said Monday that Biden believes “there is much more work to be done to protect LGBTQI+ people across the country.”
He recalled that the 80-year-old Democrat was one of the first American political leaders to publicly support same-sex unions at the highest levels of government.
In 2012, Biden caused a stir by openly declaring his support for same-sex unions, when Barack Obama’s White House was still figuring out how best to deliver the president’s official position as he sought re-election for a second term
After his own presidential election in 2020, Biden tapped Pete Buttigieg to become his transportation secretary, the first openly gay person the Senate confirmed to a cabinet post.
And beyond the issue of marriage, the Biden administration has taken a strong stance in support of LGBTQ rights, particularly toward the transgender community, whose push for more rights has become a sticking point. political turning point in the country.
The administration has introduced gender-neutral passports, which allow people who don’t identify as either male or female to select gender “X” — and lifted a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces , introduced under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
© 2022 AFP