The same-sex and interracial marriage protection act will be signed into law by President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon.
As the Respect for Marriage Act becomes a law, Biden will host a celebration with lawmakers and Cabinet members on the South Lawn of the White House beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Biden “will be joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as well as advocates and plaintiffs in marriage equality cases across the country,” his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.
The president “will also note that there is much more work to be done” and reiterate his call for passage of federal legislation known as the Equality Act to increase civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, Jean-Pierre said, adding that there will be musical guests and performances.
After months of negotiations, particularly over clauses relating to religion, the historic marriage bill was approved by both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support.
After the Senate approved it 61-36, the House voted last week 258-169 to send the bill to Biden. Republicans who voted in both cases joined the majority of Democrats.
The first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, helped the bill pass through Congress. The bill “will protect the hard-won progress we’ve made on marriage equality,” according to Baldwin.
After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, in which five conservative justices ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional guarantee of access to abortion, it became a top priority for Democrats.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas expressed his opinion that the court should revisit other decisions based on related legal doctrine, such as Obergefell v. Hodges from 2015, which determined that the 14th Amendment requires all states to grant same-sex marriage licenses.
The Respect for Marriage Act will require that individual states recognize same-sex and interracial marriages that were legally performed in another state but does not include Obergefell’s federal requirement.
Republicans who supported it in Congress made note of additional language regarding the protection of religious organizations that continue to oppose same-sex marriage.
However, detractors like Utah senator Mike Lee claimed it didn’t go far enough.
It will “give peace of mind to millions of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples who are now guaranteed the rights and protections to which they and their children are entitled,” Biden said last week as he celebrated the Respect for Marriage Act’s passage.
In a statement, he said that “Congress has restored a measure of security to millions of marriages and families after the uncertainty caused by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.” They have also given millions of young people in this country hope and dignity so that they can grow up knowing that their government will respect the families they create.
Biden has long been vocal about the subject. He famously opposed same-sex marriage before then-President Barack Obama in 2012 by speaking out in favor of it.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Biden said during an interview at the time on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Who do you love? Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love?” Biden said then. “And that’s what people are finding out, what all marriages at their root are about.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was emotional as the bill was passed in the House on Thursday. Pelosi, stepping down from her leadership role in the new Congress, said she was happy that this bill was one of the last she was signing as the top House Democrat.
“At last, we have history in the making,” she said at the bill enrollment ceremony last week. “But not only are we on the right side of history, we’re on the right side of the future, expanding freedom in America.”