Biden Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill into Law

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed a bill that extends marriage rights to same-sex couples across the United States, making it the law of the land. The law is a repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

The event, which took place outside the White House, was attended by activists, Democrats, and several notable speakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Vice President Kamala Harris, and singers Cyndi Lauper and Sam Smith.

“Today is a good day. Today America takes a final step toward equality, toward liberty and justice—not just for some, but for everyone,” Biden said before signing the bill.

The Respect for Marriage Act, or H.R. 8404, codifies the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that found the Defense of Marriage Act’s provision on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The law was passed in a 61-36 vote in the Senate and a 258-169 vote in the House of Representatives.

“We need to challenge the hundreds of callous, cynical laws introduced in the states targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need,” he said. “We have to protect these children.”

Vice President Harris used her remarks to mark the moment as part of the fight to make abortion federally legal, noting that “fundamental rights are interconnected, including the right to marry who you love, the right to access contraception, and the right to decisions about your own body.”

The law has been met with criticism, some saying it does not contain adequate safeguards for religious freedom.

“It’s giving broad new power to the federal government to be able to go after religious organizations and people of faith that hold to the view that marriage is between one man and one woman,” senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom Matt Sharp told NTD.

Emma Waters, a research associate of the Heritage Foundation’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family, echoed this concern, saying the law could force religious organizations to allow same-sex couples to marry at their facilities.

However, supporters of the law say it has adequate safeguards, with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) saying in a joint statement that the legislation “fully respects and protects religious liberty and diverse beliefs about marriage.”

With the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, same-sex couples can now enjoy the same rights and responsibilities afforded to all other married couples in the United States.