President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage.
Thousands of people gathered on the White House South Lawn to commemorate the Respect for Marriage Act becoming law.
“Today is a good day,” Biden said as he took the podium after Vice President Kamala Harris. “A day America takes a vital step toward equality, for liberty and justice — not just for some, but for everyone. Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity and love are recognized, honored and protected.”
“Look, we’re here today to celebrate their courage and everyone who made the day possible,” the president continued. “Courage that led to progress we’ve seen over the decades, progress that gives us hope that every generation will continue on our journey toward a more perfect union.”
The ceremony included performances from Grammy winners Sam Smith and Cyndi Lauper. Smith, who announced in 2019 they were nonbinary and use they/them pronouns, performed their hit song “Stay With Me” followed by Lauper singing “True Colors.”
Appearing in the White House briefing room ahead of her performance, Lauper, a longtime LGBTQ advocate, told reporters, “We can rest easy tonight because our families are validated.”
“And because now we’re allowed to love who we love, which sounds odd to say. But Americans can now love who we love and bless Joe Biden and all the people that worked on this for allowing people not to worry and their children not to worry about their future,” Lauper said.
A White House official said that notable guests attending the signing ceremony included Club Q founder Matthew Haynes and two survivors of the shooting that happened just last month at the Colorado Springs, Colo., LGBTQ nightclub. Other attendees included a survivor of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people in Orlando, Fla. and plaintiffs and counselors from the Obergefell and Loving Supreme Court cases.
“We must stop the hate and violence like we just saw in Colorado Springs for a place of acceptance and celebration was targeted for violence and terror,” Biden said Tuesday. “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. We have to protect these children so they know they’re loved and we will stand up for them.”
“Folks, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia are all connected,” Biden continued. “But the antidote to hate is love … This law matters to every single American no matter who you are or who you love.”
The Respect for Marriage Act passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress after months of negotiation, particularly over provisions related to religion. The House voted last week 258-169 to send the bill to Biden’s desk after the Senate passed it 61-36. A minority of Republicans joined Democrats in both votes.