President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed
into law a bill that protects same-sex and interracial marriages.
The president signed the Respect for
Marriage Act at an event on the South Lawn of the White House
attended by thousands of guests.
“For most of our nation's history, we
denied interracial couples and same-sex couples from these
protections,” Biden said. “It failed to treat them with equal
dignity and respect. And now, this law requires an interracial
marriage and same-sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every
state in the nation.”
The law repeals the Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for federal purposes as a
heterosexual union. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of
DOMA in 2013. Biden voted for DOMA as a senator in 1996.
The Respect for Marriage Act also
requires states to recognize all legal out-of-state marriages.
The bill cleared Congress with the help
of 39 Republicans in the House and 12 Republicans in the Senate.
Democrats reintroduced the legislation
in June after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Supporters of the measure pointed out that like Roe the
decision that ushered in nationwide marriage equality was also based
on the right to privacy.
Tuesday's bill signing came a decade
after Biden unexpectedly declared his support for same-sex marriage.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the
fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual
men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights,
all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” then-Vice President
Biden said during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press.
Biden's comments prompted
then-President Barack Obama to announce his support for marriage
LGBTQ rights advocates cheered
Tuesday's bill signing.
“Today is a historic day and a
much-needed victory for our community,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
President Kelley Robinson said in a statement. “It should be lost
on no one that this bill signing comes less than a month after a
deadly attack on our community in Colorado Springs, and at a time
when the community continues to face ongoing threats of online and
offline violence, as well as legislative attacks on our rights. In
signing this bill, President Biden has shown that LGBTQ+ peoples’
lives and love are valid and supported.”