Biden Admin Diego Ramos LGBTQ+

Biden Signs Off Same-Sex Marriage Bill, Fully Reversing His Earlier Opposition

The new legislation mandates federal recognition for same-sex marriage, as well as interracial marriage, around the country and protects it from potential invalidation in the future by the Supreme Court.
Biden-Harris Celebration in Philadelphia. 7beachbum from Tsuruoka, Japan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Diego Ramos / Original to ScheerPost

In a shift from previous stances, President Biden will sign the “Respect for Marriage Act” bill,  giving a big boost towards LGBTQ+ equality. The bill scheduled to be signed on Tuesday also codifies interracial marriage across the country.

“Congress took a critical step to ensure that Americans have the right to marry the person they love,” Biden said in a White House statement.

“The landmark legislation, passed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, officially erases the Defense of Marriage Act, which a quarter of a century ago defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and prohibits states from denying the validity of out-of-state marriages based on sex, race or ethnicity,” said the New York Times.

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Many are quick to point out Biden’s evolution on the issue, from voting for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 to his famous 2012 “Meet the Press” interview.

In between those major moments, Biden has demonstrated his historic opposition to LGBTQ+ rights. Biden voted for the 1993 bill that created the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He also voted as a Senator to cut federal funds from “any school district that teaches acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle.”

In the 2000s, Biden insinuated that same-sex marriage was not important issue and restated his support of the Defense of Marriage Act, stating, “We already have a law—the Defense of Marriage Act—we all voted, well, I voted and others say, look, marriage is between a man and a woman and states must respect that… Why do we need a constitutional amendment? What’s the game going on over here?”

Flash forward to 2012, outlets like CNN and NPR were quick to connect the current moment to Biden’s “Meet the Press” interview, where he stated, “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.”

The New York Times also points out, “The push for passage of the law was driven in part by the Supreme Court opinion overturning abortion rights, in which Justice Clarence Thomas raised the possibility of using the same logic to reconsider decisions protecting marriage equality and contraception rights.”

The bill received bipartisan support with 61 senators and 258 House members voting to send the bill to Biden’s desk. It is expected to be signed at a massive ceremony involving thousands of spectators on the White House South Lawn.

For indispensable background information on the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, listen to this episode of the Scheer Intelligence podcast featuring Larry Gross. The author of two pioneer books on the movement, Gross offers a unique perspective on this evolving history.

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