President Biden Signs Respect For Marriage Act Into Law

Feature image photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This afternoon, at a big gay party on the White House lawn, President Biden signed the (kinda) bipartisan Respect For Marriage Act into law. It’s been a pretty speedy process, as far as these things go. The Senate passed the bill with a vote of vote of 61 to 36 two weeks ago. The House took it up and passed it 258-169 last week (39 Republicans joined the yeses). And that was just enough time for the Biden Administration to invite all the LGBTQs in town to join them for a celebration. “We are reaffirming a fundamental truth,” Biden said in his speech before signing the bill. “Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”

Congress came together to get the Respect For Marriage law passed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The new law ensures that same-gender and interracial marriages will be federally recognized, regardless of individual state laws, as long as the marriage was performed in a state where same-gender and interracial marriage are legal. (That’s all states right now, but who knows what’s going to happen.) It also repeals the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as commitment between a man and a woman.

In addition to LGBTQ activists, legislators, and their family and friends, Biden was joined by Grammy winners Sam Smith and Cyndi Lauper, who preformed “Stay With Me” and “True Colors.”

During her speech, Nancy Pelosi, who is nearing the end of her tenure as House Speaker, said, “This is about respect. This is about taking pride and it’s about time that we do so at the federal level.”

I know it’s not a perfect situation, by any stretch of the imagination, and most LGBTQ+ people are worried about way more than marriage equality. Like, you know, being able to afford to eat and see a doctor and survive high school. I am grateful for it. As a lesbian living with a chronic illness and disability, I need to know that my wife is going to be able to stay by side and make all the legal decisions a husband could make. I need to know she’s always going to have access to our shared finances and that our insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate against us if we ever need to pivot on our coverage. I need to know if we’re forced to ever move back to either of our home states (Georgia and Wisconsin), our marriage will be as valid, federally, as it is where we got married here in New York City. It sets my mind at ease about one thing, and that’s worth a whole lot in this world right now.

You can watch the full two-hour White House lawn party if you want!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Whoohoo! It’s not everything we could ask for, but a massive, massive step in the right direction and a sigh of relief for some of our most basic rights :) So relieved that this passed!

  2. One more angle where this is amazing and it makes me choked up- it’s not just recognition between states, but also recognition for purposes of immigration.
    My interracial, same-sex, immigrant-citizen marriage is protected in all three ways and I getting so emotional right now.

  3. It’s so small compared to everything we need but so huge compared to how things were in the recent past. Until 2013, I didn’t think I would EVER be able to have a marriage to a woman recognized in my home state, I just thought nationwide gay marriage was completely politically impossible. To have it affirmed not just by the courts but by a majority of representatives is historic and touching. I’m grateful for everyone who moved the needle, culturally, politically, in their families.

  4. Now we need to protect the right to contraception. A judge in TX today ruled on a case where a woman (I’m paraphrasing here) said she’s a Christian raising her children as Christian so birth control isn’t necessary because they are waiting until marriage. The judge said he agreed. I believe this is contraception for 18 and younger but it’s still the first shot fired and a bad one (using religion as your argument will backfire – look at Indiana’s recent ruling on abortion in a complaint filed by Jewish, non-Christian and non-denominational women).

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!