Same-sex marriage bill clears House in bipartisan vote

Protesters waving LGBTQ equality flags outside of the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Image credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The House of Representatives voted 258-169 on Thursday to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, thereby sending the bill to President Biden to be signed into law.

"I find it deeply poignant that, as we prepare to bring the 117th Congress to a close, we are on the cusp of a great bipartisan moral victory in defense of a fundamental right of all Americans," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor. "A victory that will provide stability and reassurance to the millions of LGBTQ and interracial families that have come to rely on the constitutional right to marry."

The landmark legislation, which enshrines same-sex and interracial marriage protections into federal law, passed the Senate at the end of November, after lawmakers there amended the bill to include a provision regarding religious liberty. The bill was then sent back to the House, where an earlier version had passed in July. It will now move to Biden's desk.

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In addition to repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the Respect for Marriage Act would require that marriages be recognized in any state so long as the union was valid in the state where it was performed, per The Washington Post. It would not force states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The legislation arrived in response to comments from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who over the summer suggested the court reconsider other landmark cases and precedents the way it did Roe v. Wade.

"Just as I began my career fighting for LGBTQ communities, I am overjoyed that one of the final bills I will sign as speaker will be the Respect for Marriage Act," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a Wednesday op-ed: "ensuring the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love."

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