Biden Signs ‘Respect For Marriage Act’ Into Law

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden signed the “Respect for Marriage Act” into law Tuesday on the South Lawn of the White House, requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages carried out at the state level.

“Today is a good day. Today America takes a final step towards equality for liberty and justice. Not just for some, but for everyone,” Biden said.

“Marriage is a simple proposition. Who do you love, and will you be loyal with that person you love?” Biden added, saying the government should not interfere in marriage.

Vice President Kamala Harris made remarks before Biden, tying the Dobbs decision into the passage of the act.

“The Dobbs decision reminds us that fundamental rights are interconnected, including the right to marry who you love. The right to access contraception and the right to make decisions about your own body,” Harris said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also spoke, applauding the passage of the act. Schumer wore the same tie he wore when his daughter married another woman, and Pelosi said the act is about “respect.”

“Millions more devoted partners will be able to shed a tear of joy” due to the act’s passage, Pelosi said.

The bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 258-169 after passing the Senate with a vote of 61-36.

“Congress is acting because an extreme Supreme Court has stripped away” the federal right to abortion, Biden said.

The “Respect for Marriage Act” does not force states to recognize same-sex marriage, but mandates the recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages across state lines. The federal government also has to give the same benefits, such as Social Security survivor benefits, to same-sex marriages.

The bill does not limit the definition of marriage to occurring between men and women, and states, “reasonable and sincere people” hold diverse beliefs on gender in marriage “based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.” (RELATED: Meet The Drag Queens Reportedly Attending Biden’s Signing Of Same Sex Marriage Bill)

Biden’s views on same-sex marriage have evolved over the course of a decade. On the 2008 campaign trail, he said he and former President Barack Obama do not support protecting civil gay marriages.

“Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage,” Biden said at the time.

Biden had apparently changed course by 2012, saying same-sex marriages are “entitled to the same exact rights.”

“Look, I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. 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. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction — beyond that,” Biden said.

Some Republicans supported the bill on account of an amendment stating it does not diminish religious liberty, and that nonprofit religious organizations “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.”

Biden spoke against private businesses not serving gay people in his speech, saying, “When a person can be married in the morning and thrown out of a restaurant for being gay in the afternoon, this is still wrong.”