A parade of Democrats — some of them gay, many speaking out about their own same-sex marriages — stood on the floor of the house Thursday to advocate for the measure. It repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. Once signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will prohibit states from denying the validity of a non-state marriage based on gender, race or ethnicity.
“Today we will vote for equality and against discrimination by finally repealing the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act and guaranteeing vital protections for same-sex and interracial marriages,” Rhode Island Democrat Rep. David Cicilline said in the moments leading up to Thursday passed.
Later, at a ceremony to celebrate and formally deliver the legislation to Mr. Biden, Ms. Pelosi, whose mandate ends in early January, said signing the bill was a fitting capstone to her tenure in office, which began in 2010 with her signing of legislation permitting the lifting of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gay and bisexual people openly serving in the military.
Former Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and one of the first openly gay members of Congress, was in attendance to celebrate what he described as the demise of yet another nefarious policy, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act by his initials.
“I was present at DOMA’s birth, so I am very grateful to be able to attend the funeral,” said Mr. Frank. “And it’s kind of a New Orleans moment; We blow our horns for the funeral – a much happier occasion than the birth.”
Despite the bipartisan nature of the vote, the majority of Republicans remained vocally opposed. During Thursday’s debate, they argued that the measure was a response to a nonexistent threat to same-sex marriage rights and denounced it as part of a Democrat conspiracy to upend traditional values to the detriment of the country.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats had “conjured up” an “unfounded fear” that the Supreme Court was about to overturn same-sex marriage rights and other precedents, saying the measure was there was still insufficient protection for organizations that do not consider such unions valid.