Us On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that protects same-sex marriage at the federal level. Many people gathered at the White House to celebrate this important legislative step.
Biden praised the landmark law as a victory for people’s rights. As vice president, he spoke out in favour of same-sex marriages long before the Supreme Court made them legal in the whole country in 2015.
During the signing ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, he said, “America Takes A Vital Step Towards Equality, Liberty, And Justice, Not Just For Some, But For Everyone.”
After the US Supreme Court, which is now much more conservative, overturned long-standing abortion rights last June, lawmakers from both the left and the right joined forces to stop any future moves to limit the rights of same-sex marriage.
When Congress finally passed the bill last week, it was a rare sign of cooperation in Washington, which is very divided.
To celebrate, Biden got together with a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the White House grounds, as well as advocates and plaintiffs in marriage equality cases from all over the country.
Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. senator, said she was “overwhelmed with joy” when the law she helped write in Congress was signed into law.
She said in a statement, “Today, we are making history and making a difference for millions of Americans.”
“We are telling the millions of same-sex and mixed-race couples that we see them and respect them.”
Monday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that the bill will give millions of LGBT+ and mixed-race couples peace of mind because they will finally get the rights and protections to which they and their children are entitled.
Jean-Pierre herself made history as the first openly gay person to work as a press secretary at the White House.
Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in 2015, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples have gotten married.
In the last few decades, people have become much more open to same-sex marriage. Polls now show that a strong majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.
But there is still opposition from some conservatives and the Religious Right.
The new law, called the Respect for Marriage Act, does not require states to make same-sex marriage legal, but it does require them to recognize a marriage as long as it was legal in the state where it took place.
It gets rid of old laws that said marriage was between a man and a woman. It also protects interracial couples by telling states they have to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
In the House of Representatives, 39 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for the bill, while 169 Republicans voted against it. It was already passed by 61 to 36 votes in a Senate that was evenly split.
Jean-Pierre said on Monday that Biden thinks “there is a lot more work to be done to protect LGBTQ+ people across the country.”
She remembered that the 80-year-old Democrat was one of the first American political leaders to publicly support same-sex marriages at the highest levels of government.
Back in 2012, Biden caused a stir when he openly said he supported same-sex marriages. At the time, Barack Obama’s White House was still trying to figure out the best way to make the president’s position official as he ran for a second term.
After Joe Biden was elected president in 2020, he chose Pete Buttigieg to be his Transportation Secretary. He was the first openly gay person to be approved by the Senate for a Cabinet position.
And beyond the issue of marriage, the Biden administration has taken a strong stance in support of LGBTQ rights, especially for the transgender community, whose push for more rights has become a political flashpoint in the country.
The government has made gender-neutral passports, which let people who don’t identify as either male or female choose “X” as their gender. It has also lifted a ban on transgender people serving in the military that was put in place by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
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