The so-called Respect for Marriage Act has been signed by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, cementing the right to same-sex marriage into federal law. The Respect for Marriage Act grants federal protections to same-sex and interracial couples. It does not force states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but requires that people be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed

As recently as the 2008 election, Biden said in a vice presidential debate that neither he nor former President Barack Obama, then a candidate, supported changing the civil definition of marriage. But in 2012 then-Vice President Biden announced his support for same-sex marriage on NBC’s Meet the Press, backing the measure even before Obama did.

President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday, codifying into law protections for same-sex and interracial couples.

“The road to this moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice, you never gave up,” Biden said. “So many of you put your relationships on the line, your jobs on the line, your lives on the line, to fight for the law I’m about to sign. For me and the entire nation: thank you, thank you, thank you.”

The signing took place in a large ceremony with thousands of attendees on the White House South Lawn. Several plaintiffs of LGBTQ rights legal cases stood on the steps behind Biden as he spoke. Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke before Biden, and artists Sam Smith and Cindy Lauper performed.

The Respect for Marriage Act does not guarantee the right to marry. It specifies that states must recognize same-sex marriages across state lines and that same-sex couples have the same federal benefits as any married couple.

The renewed push to codify the protections came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which affirmed the right to have an abortion. Justice Clarence Thomas in his Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concurring opinion listed the 2015 ruling Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that affirmed right to same-sex marriage, as another landmark case that may be due for review.

The legislation, which legally protects same-sex marriages, has sparked discussion and debate, particularly among critics who fear it doesn’t go far enough to protect religious freedom.

In a conversation with Christian Post reporter Ryan Foley — recorded after the Senate passage but before last week’s passage in the House of Representatives — Foley explains what sparked The Respect For Marriage Act, why proposed religious freedom amendments failed to pass and why proponents pursued the bill’s passage.

Listen to the conversation and read more about The Respect For Marriage Act:

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