Biden signs a law that protects equal marriage in the United States

  US President Joe Biden signed a law approved by Congress on Tuesday that shields same-sex marriage at the federal level, a triumph in the fight for equality that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Today is a good day. Today, America takes another step toward equality. Toward liberty and justice not just for some, but for all. Because today, I sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law.

 The ratification took place in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in a festive atmosphere and with 3,000 attendees. At the beginning of the event, the singer Sam Smith performed “Stay With Me”, while Cyndi Lauper moved the audience with “True Colors”, anthem of the gay community. Biden intervened at the end of the act and, while the public took photos with her mobile phones, he signed the law with a smile.

 “Deciding who to marry is one of the most personal decisions a person can make,” said the president, who argued that marriage should come down to just two questions: “Who do you love?” and “Will you be faithful to the person you love?”

“This law recognizes that everyone should have the right to answer those questions for themselves, without government interference,” he declared.

The legislation, which automatically took effect with his signature, will serve to protect interracial and same-sex marriages should the conservative-majority Supreme Court overturn court rulings protecting those rights.

 Specifically, the law prohibits any state from challenging the legality of a marriage, regardless of the sex or race of the parties, if the marriage is legal in the state in which it occurred.

In addition, it revokes the Defense of Marriage law approved in 1996 under the Bill Clinton government (1993-2001) and which established that marriage could only occur between a man and a woman, blocking the recognition of homosexual unions.

Advocacy for marriage equality gained momentum after the Supreme Court in June struck down Roe v. Wade, which for nearly half a century protected abortion access.

A law that reflects changing public opinion

The ceremony was attended by the Democratic leaders of Congress, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who recognized the work that US activists have done to change public opinion around equal marriage and get it protected by law.

“You the American people are the ones who have made this possible!” shouted Schumer, who wore the same purple tie he wore to the wedding of his daughter, who is gay.

Public opinion in the US has changed dramatically in recent years: in 1996, when the law establishing marriage as a union between one man and one woman was signed, only 27% of Americans supported the gay marriage, while in 2022 support was 71%, according to Gallup.

 Biden himself, who as a senator voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, has modified his position on the matter in recent years and, as a candidate in the 2020 elections, promised to defend the rights of the lesbian, gay, and lesbian community. trans, bisexual, intersex and queer (LGTBIQ).

One of the most important moments of that transition for Biden occurred in 2012, when he was serving as vice president of Barack Obama (2009-2017) and unexpectedly declared in an interview on NBC that he supported marriage equality, comments that caused quite a stir.

At the time, Obama, who was running for re-election, had not yet expressed his support for same-sex unions.

At the event this Tuesday, the White House played Biden’s words during that famous 2012 interview on loudspeakers while, in the background, an instrumental version of the song “America, the free” played. Biden himself recalled that incident in his speech and jokingly acknowledged that he got “in trouble.”