House Clears Landmark Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage

Nancy Pelosi presides over 258-169 vote in one of her final acts as speaker
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2022 12:06 PM CST
House Clears Landmark Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announces final passage of the bill with protections for same-sex marriages, on the House Floor on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Washington.   (Senate Television via AP)

The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decades-long battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes, per the AP. President Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize marriages that were legal where they were performed, a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriages nationwide. The bipartisan legislation, which passed 258-169 with almost 40 Republican votes, would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of "sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin."

In debate ahead of the vote, several gay members of Congress talked about what it would mean for them and their families. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, said he was set to marry "the love of my life" next year and that it is "unthinkable" that his marriage might not be recognized in some states. Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, said that the idea of marriage equality used to be a "far fetched idea. Now it's the law of the land and supported by the vast majority of Americans." Democrats moved the bill quickly through the House and Senate after the Supreme Court's June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion. That ruling included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage should also be reconsidered.

The legislation lost some Republican support in the House since July, when 47 Republicans voted for it—a robust and unexpected show of support that kick-started serious negotiations in the Senate, which passed the bill last week with 12 Republican votes. But most of those lawmakers held firm. "To me this is really just standing with the Constitution," said Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who voted for it both times. "No one's religious liberties are affected in any way, shape, or form." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the vote as one of her last acts in leadership before stepping aside in January. She said the legislation will ensure that "the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love." (Read more same-sex marriage stories.)

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