Biden signs gay marriage law, calls it ‘blowback on hate’

WASHINGTON (AP) — A festive crowd of thousands gathered on a chilly Tuesday afternoon to watch President Joe Biden sign gay marriage legislation into law, a jubilant ceremony that was tempered by the ongoing conservative backlash over gender issues.

“This law and the love it protects strikes 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 has released a tape of a television interview with Biden from a decade ago, when he caused a political furor by unexpectedly revealing his support for gay marriage. Biden was vice president at the time, and President Barack Obama had not yet endorsed the idea.

“I got in trouble,” Biden joked about the moment. Three days later, Obama himself publicly endorsed gay marriage.

Lawmakers from both parties attended Tuesday’s ceremony, reflecting the growing acceptance of same-sex unions, once among the country’s most controversial issues.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DNY, wore the same purple tie to the ceremony that he wore to his daughter Alison’s wedding. She and her husband are expecting their first child in the spring.

“Thanks to the millions out there who have spent years pushing for change, and thanks to the hard work of my colleagues, my grandson will live in a world that respects and honors their mothers’ marriage,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the crowd that “domestic maneuvering only gets us so far” and thanked activists who are adding momentum with “your impatience, your tenacity and your patriotism.”

Despite the excitement on Tuesday, there was concern about the nationwide spread of conservative gender policies at the state level.

Biden criticized the “callous, cynical laws introduced in states targeting transgender children, terrifying families and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need.”

“Racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected,” Biden said. “But the antidote to hate is love.”

Among those present were the owner of Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado where five people were killed in a shooting last month, and two survivors of the attack. The suspect was charged with hate crimes.

“I didn’t realize that our fight for freedom had not been achieved,” said Kelly Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “But this is a huge step forward and we should celebrate the victories we achieve and use them to fuel the future of the fight.”

Robinson attended the ceremony with his wife and 1-year-old child.

“Our kids look at this moment,” she said. “It’s very special to have them here and show them we’re on the right side of history.”

The new law aims to protect gay marriage if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. A 2015 decision to legalize same-sex unions across the country. The new law also protects interracial marriages. In 1967, the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia overturned laws in 16 states prohibiting interracial marriage.

The signing marks the culmination of a month-long bipartisan effort sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion available nationwide.

In a concurring opinion in the case that overruled Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas offered to review other decisions, including the legalization of gay marriage, raising fears that more rights could be threatened by the court’s conservative majority. Thomas did not mention interracial marriage with the other cases he said should be revisited.

Lawmakers worked out a compromise that was intended to assuage conservative concerns about religious freedom, such as ensuring that churches can still refuse to perform gay marriages.

In addition, states would not be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if the court reverses its 2015 ruling. But they would be required to recognize marriages performed elsewhere in the country.

A majority of Republicans in Congress still voted against the legislation. However, enough backed it to bypass a filibuster in the Senate and ensure its passage.

Tuesday’s ceremony marks another chapter in the Biden’s Legacy on Gay Rights which included his surprise endorsement of marriage equality in 2012.

“It’s all just a proposition: Who do you love?” Biden said then on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Who do you love and will you be faithful to the person you love?” And this is what people find is the cause of all marriages at their core.

A Gallup poll showed that only 27 percent of US adults supported same-sex unions in 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, under which the federal government would recognize only heterosexual marriages. Biden voted for the legislation.

At the time of Biden’s 2012 interview, gay marriage remained controversial, but support had expanded to roughly half of U.S. adults, according to Gallup. Earlier this year, 71% said same-sex unions should be recognized by law.

Biden has pushed for expanded LGBT rights since taking office. He overturned President Donald Trump’s efforts to strip transgender people of protections against discrimination. His administration includes the first openly gay cabinet memberTransport Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the first transgender person to receive Senate confirmationAssistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levin.


Associated Press writer Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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