All House Democrats and 39 Republicans voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the Senate last month by a 61-36 vote (49 Democrats plus 12 Republicans supported it). The bill now awaits Democratic President Joe Biden's signature to be ratified into law.
According to the U.S. President, the measure constitutes an "essential step toward guaranteeing Americans the right to marry the person they love." Biden has said he will quickly and proudly sign the bill into law, as equal marriage is one of his legislative priorities.
The bill seeks to prevent the conservative-led Supreme Court from overturning the right to same-sex marriage in the U.S. since it stripped the people of their constitutional right to abortion in June of this year, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the country since 2015, when the Supreme Court so ruled. The new legislation is intended to support that decision, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.
The Respect for Marriage Act makes concessions to religious groups and institutions that do not support such marriages. It does not require states to legalize same-sex marriages, but it does require states to recognize such marriages as long as they are legal in the state where they took place.
The bill would repeal a 1996 U.S. law called the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Highlighting her career-long fight on behalf of LGBTQI+ communities, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today via Twitter the bill "will ensure that the federal government will never again stand in the way of those who want to marry the person they love."