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On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, President Biden signed into law a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages. Called the Respect for Marriage Act, it doesn't guarantee the right to marry, but it does mandate that all states must recognize that same-sex couples and interracial marriages have the same federal benefits that any married couple is afforded. Support for Respect for Marriage came from across the aisle. Although far from a majority of Republicans supported the bill, 12 senators and 39 representatives voted in favor of Respect for Marriage.
The law, which was given new urgency to pass after the fall of Roe v. Wade, represents a significant shift in attitudes toward same-sex marriage over the past nearly three decades. Gallup, a polling firm, began asking Americans about same-sex marriage in 1996. Back then, just 27% of the public supported legalization. Ten years later, it was at 42%, and it’d take until 2011 to crack the majority of support. In 2015, right before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, 60% of the public was for legalization. As of May 2022, 71% of people surveyed were in favor.
President Biden is part of that evolution. In the 1990s, he voted for things that hurt gay rights, including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which specifically blocked the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. By signing the Respect for Marriage Act, he repealed DOMA.
Protecting interracial marriage is part of the new law, and it too has seen a massive uptick in support since the middle of the 20th century. In 1958, Gallup polled Americans asking if they approved of unions between Black and white people, and just 4% of the population said they were in favor of it. This increased to about 50% at the end of the century but exponentially grew in the 2000s. As of 2021, 94% of the public supported interracial marriage.
This is a historic moment for the United States, with sights on a brighter future that protects all consenting adults.
On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, President Biden signed into law a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages. It demonstrates a shift in attitudes about marriage equality.
Poll indicating how support for same-sex marriage has changed:
Poll indicating how support for interracial marriage has changed:
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