The gardens of the White House have turned this Wednesday into a party to celebrate a historic moment. The singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun has given a small concert, then a gay choir has performed. Later, Sam Smith has interpreted stay with me and Cindy Lauper, True Colors before a large audience, animated despite the freezing temperatures. Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith, a pioneering lesbian couple in litigating to get married, have recalled the difficulties they experienced before seeing their rights recognized and have thanked the President of the United States, Joe Biden, for his support, shortly before he signed the new Law of Respect for Marriagewhich expressly recognizes federal rights for marriages between homosexuals and between people of different races.
The vice president, Kamala Harris, has declared the new law “a victory” and has praised Biden’s defense of LGTBIQ rights before an audience delivered like few times. The White House has estimated attendance at 5,300 people. Biden, with his usual sunglasses for outdoor events, has been energetic, although with a bit of a cough: “Today is a good day. Today America takes a definitive step toward equality for liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all, all toward a nation where decency, dignity, and love are recognized, honored, and protected,” said the president. .
“Today I signed the Law of Respect for Marriage. Deciding whether to marry and who to marry is one of the most transcendental decisions that a person can make”, he continued, stating that the question of marriage is simple for him: “Who do you love? And will you be loyal to that person you love? It doesn’t get more complicated than that. The law recognizes that everyone should have the right to answer those questions for themselves without government interference.” Biden has used the same questions as in 2012, in a television interview, when as vice president he became the highest-ranking position to support gay marriage. The president has acknowledged that the United States has failed for most of its history to accord equal dignity and rights to same-sex or interracial couples.
Biden has stressed that “Congress has said loud and clear that love is love. What’s right is what’s right. Justice is justice. These things are fundamental things that America thinks matter”, and she has said that if the law has been necessary to pass it is because of an “extremist Supreme Court” that repealed abortion as a constitutional right last June and in which one of its members, Judge Clarence Thomas, suggested that the right to equal marriage and access to contraceptives should also be reviewed.
the new norm
The rights of gay marriages are now more protected, since the new law shields them from a possible change of criteria by the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority. Marriage between people of the same sex is recognized as a right in the United States, precisely thanks to a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court, then with a progressive majority: the ruling of the case Obergefell vs. Hodges, which struck down laws in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee that only allowed unions between a man and a woman. A total of 37 of the 50 States (plus the federal capital, Washington) had previously approved laws to that effect, but the rest refused to recognize it until that High Court ruling. The federal Congress had never regulated it and the previous laws, declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, what they did was define as the only marriage the one celebrated between a man and a woman.
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The danger that the Supreme Court would change its criteria and give validity to these laws led the Democrats to propose a new federal regulation. The law recently signed by Biden falls short of establishing same-sex marriage as a right across the country. If the Supreme Court were to go against its precedents, some States may once again prohibit homosexual weddings in their territory, but the new rule requires recognition throughout the country of those carried out in any State, with equal rights.
The text has had the support not only of Democratic congressmen, but also of 12 senators and 39 Republican representatives.