On a chilly Tuesday afternoon, thousands gathered to watch President Joe Biden sign gay marriage legislation into law. “This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms,” Biden said on the South Lawn of the White House. “And that’s why this law matters to every single American.”
Singers Sam Smith and Cyndi Lauper performed. Vice President Kamala Harris recalled officiating at a lesbian wedding in San Francisco. And the White House played a recording of Biden’s television interview from a decade ago, when he caused a political furor by unexpectedly disclosing his support for gay marriage.
Lawmakers from both parties attended Tuesday’s ceremony, reflecting the growing acceptance of same-sex unions, once among the country’s most contentious issues.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wore the same purple tie to the ceremony that he wore to his daughter’s wedding. His daughter and her wife are expecting their first child in the spring.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the crowd that “inside maneuvering only takes us so far,” and she thanked activists adding impetus with “your impatience, your persistence and your patriotism.”
Biden criticized the “callous, cynical laws introduced in the states targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need.”
The new law is intended to safeguard gay marriages if the US Supreme Court ever reverses Obergefell v. Hodges, its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex unions nationwide. The new law also protects interracial marriages. In 1967, the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia struck down laws in 16 states barring interracial marriage.
Biden has pushed to expand LGBT rights since taking office. He reversed President Donald Trump’s efforts to strip transgender people of anti-discrimination protections. His administration includes the first openly gay Cabinet member, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and the first transgender person to receive Senate confirmation, Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine.