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The House of Representatives passes the Respect Marriage Act and sends Biden a historic marriage equality bill

Washington- The House on Thursday passed legislation providing federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, sending the landmark bill to President Biden’s desk for his signature and capping a decades-long shift in American attitudes toward marriage. gay marriage.

Called the Respect for Marriage Act, the measure won bipartisan support in the Democratic-led House after the lower house I pass this summer a version of the bill with the support of 47 Republicans. The House vote to give final approval to the legislation was 258 to 169, with one Republican vote “present.” Thirty nine Republican lawmakers joined all Democrats in supporting the bill.

Mr. Biden said the measure’s passage will provide peace of mind for LGBTQI+ and interracial couples who are now guaranteed federal protections, particularly in the wake of the June Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade, who was the catalyst for Congress to accept the bill.

“Congress has restored some measure of security for millions of married couples and families. It has also provided hope and dignity to millions of young people across the country who can grow up knowing that their government will recognize and respect the families they build,” he said. in a sentence.

The move is likely to be one of the last significant legislative achievements for the Democratic House and one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s final acts before the party hands over control of the House to Republicans. with the start of the new Congress in January. .

“Today, we stand for the values ​​that the vast majority of Americans hold dear, the belief in dignity, beauty and divinity, divinity, the spark of divinity, in each person and the abiding respect for the powerful love that unites two people,” Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor.

The California Democrat pointed to the full-circle nature of voting: One of her final acts during her first term as speaker was to pass legislation repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and she will. close his mandate as speaker now with the Law of Respect for Marriage.

Law of Respect for Marriage
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads a bill signing ceremony for the Respect Marriage Act at the US Capitol on Thursday, December 8, 2022.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House vote came after the Senate clear the legislation in a 61-36 vote that included the support of 12 Republicans. The plan gained broader support from Republican senators after the initial bill passed by the House was revised to include an amendment providing protections for religious freedom.

Biden highlighted the bipartisan coalition in Congress that helped push the marriage equality bill through both chambers, saying their efforts “demonstrated that it is possible for Democrats and Republicans to come together to safeguard our most fundamental rights.”

The Respect for Marriage Law was one of the first legislative measures adopted by the Chamber after the decision of the Supreme Court june decision roll back the constitutional right to abortion. worried about a concurring opinion After Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to reconsider other landmark cases, including the 2015 decision recognizing the right to same-sex marriage, Democrats moved quickly to enshrine marriage equality into federal law.

The bill repeals the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples, and safeguards marriages by requiring that valid marriages be recognized regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin”.

After Senate Republicans raised concerns that the initial plan would infringe on religious freedom, a bipartisan group in the Senate negotiated a deal on changes to the bill ensuring that nonprofit religious groups will not be required to provide services, facilities, or property for the performance of a same-sex marriage, and religious freedom protections and privacy protections conscience available under the Constitution and federal law. The bipartisan amendment also makes it clear that the bill does not authorize the US government to recognize polygamous marriages.

The agreement on the revised legislation was crucial because it produced the necessary Republican support to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, paving the way for the legislation’s final passage.

The passage of the bill, particularly with bipartisan majorities, is a turning point for the LGBTQ rights movement and demonstrates the changing views of the American public on same-sex marriage. A June 2021 Gallup poll found that support for gay marriage hit a record.

But it also demonstrated growing concerns among Democrats that other rights guaranteed by previous Supreme Court decisions could be threatened by the high court’s expanded conservative majority. In addition to passing the same-sex marriage bill, the House also passed legislation to restore the right to abortion After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and protect access to birth control. However, neither of those bills would pass the Senate 50-50.

While the Supreme Court in 2015 recognized the right to same-sex marriage in its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the legislation passed by Congress provides additional guarantees for marriage equality.

The opposition from Republicans in both chambers also demonstrates the strength of the party’s conservative base, which is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. Many conservative organizations urged Republicans to vote against the legislation, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told the House that the bill was “the wrong way to go.”

Despite public acceptance of marriage equality, hate crimes against asian-americans, Jewish people Y LGBTQ people have increased in some major US cities this year. Five people were fatally shot and 17 others were injured in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the suspect was accused of 305 criminal charges, including hate crimes and murder on Tuesday.

Although momentum initially built behind the same-sex marriage plan after it was introduced in July, movement through the Senate was put on hold until after the November midterms at the request of Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, and the bipartisan group of senators involved in the plan talks.

The Senate, however, then went on to advance the bill quickly after the agreement on the protection of religious freedom was approved.

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