The House Just Voted to Protect Gay Marriage

The bill now heads to the president’s desk.

Jose Luis Magana, File/AP

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In a vote Thursday morning, the House passed a bill that would enshrine same-sex and interracial marriage in federal law. All Democrats voted for the bill, as did 39 Republicans. Democrats pushed the legislation after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the constitutionality of Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark decision granting the right to same-sex marriage, in his concurring opinion in the decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

The bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act, already passed in the Senate, and it now heads to the desk of President Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

Biden has come a long way since voting for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, in 1996. In 2012, as vice president, Biden became the first Obama administration official to endorse same-sex marriage.

A different version of the bill passed in the House in July, before the midterms. Since then, seven Republicans switched their votes from “yes” to “no,” while two—Reps. Mike Gallagher (Wisc.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.)—flipped in the opposite direction.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed the bill in a Washington Post opinion piece yesterday, writing, “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: ensuring the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love.”

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