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House passes historic bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriage

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Title iconThe News

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that will secure the federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages in a 258 to 169 vote. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.

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Thirty nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill. Biden has said he would promptly sing the bill into law when it lands on his desk.

The bill has several provisions, including enshrining some religious liberties, which won-over the support of 12 Senate Republicans who voted for the bill on Nov. 29:

  • The bill formally repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which federally defined marriage as between "one man, one woman."
  • States will be required to recognize marriage licenses from other states, including for same-sex and interracial couples.
  • It does not prohibit states from passing new discriminatory marriage laws or enforcing preexisting measures.
  • The religious liberty amendment allows nonprofits and organizations to not celebrate and, in some cases, not recognize a marriage that conflicts with their faith.
Title iconquoteworthy

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the legislation was a "historic moment" for the country.

"Once signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will help prevent right-wing extremists from upending the lives of loving couples traumatizing kids across the country and turning back the clock on hard-won progress" she said.

Title iconStep Back

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Democrats have made it a priority to codify marriage recognition.

In his concurring opinion on the overturn, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his fellow justices should consider reexamining several other landmark Supreme Court rulings that had no federal legislative backing, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage ruling, and Loving v. Virginia, the interracial marriage ruling.

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