Dec 14, 2022

Biden Signs Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages Transcript

Biden Signs Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsInterracial MarriageBiden Signs Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages Transcript

Biden Signs Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages. Read the transcript here.

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Chuck (00:00):

Signing The Respect for Marriage Act into law. After a lot of hard work today, the long but inexorable march towards greater equality takes an important step forward. By enacting this law, we are sending a message to LGBTQ Americans everywhere. You too deserve dignity. You too deserve equality. That’s about as an American ideal as they come. Now, few bills have hit home for legislators quite like this one. The exaltation we have of getting this done, it just swells your heart.

Passing the Respect for Marriage Act wasn’t just the right thing to do for America. It was personal to us, to our staff, and our families, and it’s certainly personal to me. The tie I am wearing reminds me what this moment is all about. It’s the tie I wore on the day my daughter got married to a beautiful young lady. One of the happiest days of my life. Today, she and her wife are expecting their first child next spring, my third grandchild, and I want them to raise their child with all the love and security that every kid deserves. And thanks to the millions out there who spent years pushing for change, and thanks to the doget at work of my colleagues, my grandchild will get to live in a world that respects and honors their mother’s marriage.

So yes, this is about making life better for millions of LGBTQ Americans across the country, but it’s also about the countless children and families who will be protected by this bill for generations to come.

Nothing about the Respect for Marriage Bill was inevitable. On the contrary, it took a lot of faith and a bit of risk taking to get it done. I remember sitting in my office in September with the negotiators of the bill, and they asked me to delay a vote because we weren’t sure if it would pass. I took a risk. I put my faith in the better angels of human nature, and praise God, we succeeded.

Passing the Respect for Marriage Act over the finish line took patience and persistence, but today it’s paying off. I want to thank everyone who made this moment possible. First thank you to President Biden, back there, an early and fierce proponent of marriage equality. Thank you Mr. President, for your incredible leadership. Thank you also to Speaker Pelosi, and all of my colleagues in the House. In the Senate, my thanks go to Senators Baldwin and Sinema, as well as Senators Collins, Tillis, and Portman. Their work has been magnificent. And I also want to thank someone who deserves a lot of thanks. Senator Feinstein, who originally authored this landmark bill.

Finally, finally, thank you to the American people, the vast majority of whom have understood that the inexorable march towards equality is what America is all about. You, the American people, made this bill possible. You made change happen, and because of you, we are taking one step closer to fulfilling our work of making a more perfect union. Thank you all so much.

Nancy Pelosi (04:24):

He took my speech. He just wanted see if I could wing it, and I could.

Chuck (04:46):

It was probably better than mine.

Nancy Pelosi (04:48):

Mine. Thank you, Chuck, for your tremendous leadership, for making this happen, and the pride that you take in darling Allison. I remember when she was born, her happiness in your family. And thank you for wearing the purple tie. Thank you for wearing the purple tie.

Good afternoon everyone. Mr. Leader, of course, Mr. President and Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and First Gentleman Emhoff. Thank you all for your leadership. But each and every one of you should pat yourself on the shoulder, because regardless of how much we have done internally maneuvering or taking the lead in our legislative capacities, and certainly the President, this would not have happened, as the leader indicated, without the advocacy, without the mobilization at the grassroots level. You all made this happen. I’ll go more into that in a moment, but right now it marks a glorious moment of triumph for love, of freedom, and dignity for all. Indeed, with the stroke of the president’s pen, the fundamental right to marry the person you love is enshrined in the wall of the land.

To President Biden, we commend you for your leadership, Mr. President making justice LBTQ communities a top priority of this administration and thank you, Mr. President, for your courageous leadership in the protection of marriage early to do so. Thank you, Mr. President. Let us also salute my colleagues in the House of Representatives. I see Jerry Nadler there, Mr. Cicilline, so many others who were so much a part of this legislation in the house. And of course I joined Peter Schumer and commending his senate colleagues as well. With courage, fortitude, and unbreakable unity. We have achieved a landmark victory in the fight for full equality.

When we passed a respect for Marriage Act in the house last week, which was the follow up to our original passing it. I was overwhelmed with emotion when bringing down the gavel on this legislation. And for many of us who have longed far for the LBTQ rights, we’re jumping for joy. Were you jumping for joy? Because for millions of Americans, the impacts of this law are necessary and absolutely fundamental. It enshrines equality, ensuring same sex and interracial couples can access all legal protections and financial benefits that marriage affords. It fortifies families from being upended and uprooted, with a peace of mind that their marriage is federally protected and it defends dignity, because everyone deserves to bask in the magical blessing of building a union with the person you love.

This is the latest leap forward in our fight for full equality, which we have waged alongside generations of fearless activists. We transformed the fight against HIV/AIDS with game changing funding here at home and around the world. That would not have happened without your advocacy. We took the scourge of bigoted violence with the Matthew Shepherd and James Bird hate crimes, fully inclusive Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We tossed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into the dustbin of history, honoring the patriotism of our heroes in uniform, including the transgender community in the military.

In fact, in the repeal of Don’t Ask … I’m taking a personal story. This is not as personal as the leaders, but I feel very emotional about this. When I was ending my term as speaker the first time, one of the last bills I signed as speaker was December 2010, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And now it’s so fitting in one of my final acts is speakership is to sign the Respect for Marriage Act that the president will sign today.

But our work isn’t done. Our work isn’t done and won’t rest until the Equality Act, which is Cicilline’s legacy, is passed into law. This is fight is an essential thread in the fabric of our nation’s history, because at its core, America has always been about expanding freedom, not restricting it, not restricting. To that end, I want again to salute all of you who have gathered here with us and so many a more across the country who helped achieve this victory. Know your power, take satisfaction. None of this would’ve happened without your mobilization, your advocacy, which not only expanded freedom for LGBTQ community, but for all Americans. Thank you for your patriotism to each and every one of you. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Our inside maneuvering only takes us so far. It was your outside, your patience … Well, you weren’t always so patient. Your impatience, your persistence, and your patriotism got the job done. Thank you for the personal [inaudible 00:10:49] you have made in this fight.

After the Obergefell decision was announced, Jim Obergefell declared to an ecstatic crowd outside the Supreme Court, he said this. “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts. Our love is equal. It is a thrill that protected by this landmark new law, millions more devoted partners be able to shed a tear of joy, of joy as they make their wedding vows. Celebrate the union with ones that they love and live happily and safely, safely ever after with the person they love.

People say to me, “Oh, this is easy for you because you’re from San Francisco,” and that’s an applause line. “It’s easy for you because you’re from San Francisco, and people are so tolerant there.” And I said, “Tolerance has nothing to do with it.” That is a condescending word to us when it comes to our community in San Francisco. This is about respect. This is about taking pride, and it’s about time that we do so at the federal level.

So congratulations to all of you played a role in this. Congratulations to all the weddings that will take place, as the leader said, the children who will be protected on this euphoric triumph. And may God continue to bless the United States of America as we continue to expand freedom. This is a day for great pride. Thanks to all of you. Thanks to all of you. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (14:54):

Please welcome to the stage Oscar and Grammy winning international recording artist, Sam Smith.

Sam Smith (14:59):


Sam Smith (22:18):

…all I need. This is love, it’s clear to see. But darling, stay with me. Why am I so emotional? No, it’s not a good look, gain some self-control. Deep down, I know this never works. But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt. Oh, won’t you stay with me? ‘Cause you’re all I need. This is love, it’s clear to see. But darling, stay with me. Oh, won’t you stay with me? ‘Cause you’re all I need. This is love, it’s clear to see. But darling, stay with me. Oh, won’t you stay with me? ‘Cause you’re all I need. This is love, it’s clear to see. But darling, stay with me. But darling, stay with me. Darling, stay with me.

Speaker 2 (22:30):

Please welcome long time, LGBTQI+ ally and advocate, Cyndi Lauper.

Cyndi Lauper (22:57):

How you doing? Okay, well this time, love wins. You with the sad eyes. Don’t be discouraged. Oh I realize, it’s hard to take courage. In a world full of people, You can lose sight of it all. And the darkness inside you can make you feel so small. But I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you. Don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors. True colors are beautiful like a rainbow. Show me a smile then and don’t be unhappy. Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing. If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear, you call me up because you know I’ll be there. And I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors. True colors are beautiful like a rainbow. This world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear, you call me up because you know I’ll be there. And I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors. Your true colors, your true colors keep shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid. Power to all the people. Let them show, your true colors. Your true colors are beautiful, come on.

Group (26:43):

Like a rainbow.

Cyndi Lauper (26:43):

Thank you.

Biden (29:22):

Look, I just think that good the news is that as more and more Americans come to understand, what this is all about is a simple proposition. Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what all marriages [inaudible 00:29:46]. Whether they’re marriages of lesbians or gay men or heretose-…

Speaker 4 (32:26):

Good afternoon. We are Gina and Heidi Norton Smith. 26 years ago, Heidi was pregnant with our first child. We were overjoyed and terrified. Although we had been as a committed couple for six years, the state wouldn’t let us legally marry. That meant we couldn’t be sure we would both be recognized as the parents of our children. To guarantee that if something were to happen to Heidi, our children wouldn’t be taken away. We realized to access the protections our family needed, we had to sue the state. We became one of the seven plaintiff couples in Goodrich versus Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the case that led to marriage equality in Massachusetts and ultimately the United States. Literally the day that the court validated that our love was equal, we got married.

Speaker 3 (33:39):

Our families, friends, and particular our beloved sons, sustained us through that lawsuit and we drew the strength of those who came before us. It takes the efforts of many to bend the arc of history toward justice. Even now, there are so many places where people in our community are under attack. The work will continue, but look at how far we’ve come.

The law that President Biden signs today will make people across the country safer, more secure, and less alone. From our family to all of you, thank you for fighting for our equal humanity and dignity, for our right to love and be loved, and for our marriage.

Speaker 4 (34:36):

10 years ago, this president spoke from his heart when he said that love is love. His heartfelt support and advocacy through the years help make this moment possible. So we’re here to say thank you to President Biden for signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law, and for years of support for families like ours. Thank you.

Speaker 3 (35:02):

Thank you.

Speaker 5 (36:14):

Distinguished guests, please welcome the President of the United States and Dr. Jill Biden, accompanied by the Vice President of the United States and Mr. Douglas Emhoff.

Speaker 6 (37:03):

Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Let me start by thanking Heidi and Gina for your courage and your leadership and your devotion to our country. President Biden, members of our cabinet, members of Congress, and my fellow Americans. Please have a seat. I often reflect on the week of Valentine’s Day 2004, when I had the honor to stand in San Francisco City Hall and perform some of our country’s first marriages of same-sex couples. I saw tears of joy that day as people celebrated basic human rights, the right to be recognized as a family, the right to be with the person you love, whether at a military graduation, a hospital bedside, or a naturalization ceremony. I also think back to June 28th, 2013, when after we won the fight to strike down Proposition 8, and I had the privilege and honor to pronounce my friends Chris Perry and Sandy Steer spouses for life, again at San Francisco City Hall. And this time it was on the Harvey Milk balcony. And Chris and Sandy are here today with their four sons, Elliot, Frank, Spencer and Tom. And of course then let us think about today, December 13th, 2022, a day when thanks to Democrats and Republicans, we finally protect marriage rights in federal law For millions of LGBTQI+ Americans and interracial couples, this is a victory and it is part of a larger fight. The Dobb’s decision reminds us that fundamental rights are interconnected, including the right to marry who you love, the right to access contraception and the right to make decisions about your own body. So to continue to protect fundamental rights, let us continue to stand together because that is the beauty of the coalition assembled here today who fight for equality as activists and allies and parents and neighbors and young leaders. And as the great Harvey Milk once said, I quote, “Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.” And because you made your voices heard, marriages are more secure and Joe Biden is our president, a president who elevated LGBTQI+ leaders to every level of our administration, who fights for the safety and freedom and dignity of all people every single day. And so with pride, let us welcome the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (41:52):

Hello, hello, hello. Today’s a good day. A day, America takes a vital step toward equality, toward liberty and justice, not just for some, but for everyone. Everyone toward creating a nation where decency, dignity, and love are recognized, honored and protected. Today I signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law. Deciding whether to marry, who to marry is one of the most profound decisions a person can make. And as I’ve said before, and some of you might remember on a certain TV show 10 years ago, I got in trouble. Marriage, I mean this with all my heart. Marriage is a simple proposition. Who do you love? And will you be loyal to that person you love? It’s not more complicated than that. And the law recognize that everyone should have the right to answer those questions for themselves without the government interference. It also secures the federal rights, protections that come with marriage like when your loved one gets sick and you’ve legally recognized as a next of kin. For most of our nation’s history, we denied interracial couples and same sex couples from these protections. We failed to treat them with an equal dignity and respect. And now the law requires interracial marriage and same-sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation. I want to thank all of you for being here today, for being part of this important movement. Jill, Kamala, Doug, my cabinet members, including Pete Buttigieg, and a special thanks to our performers, Joy, Sam and Cindy. Look, you know, and the gay man’s choir, Washington DC, gay man’s married choir, and the members of Congress here today in the Senate. This bipartisan vote simply would not have happened without the leadership and persistence of a real hero. Tammy Baldwin, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and thank you Susan Collins, who did not rest until this bill got done and the leader, Schumer, senators Portman, [inaudible 00:44:54], Tillis, Feinstein, Booker, and in the house, this would not have happened. As much wouldn’t happen without Nancy Pelosi. Equality and dignity in the LGBT community has always been her north star from her first speech on the house floor, pledging to end AIDs and signaling the bill and signing the bill today, all that time span, Madam Speaker, on behalf of all Americans, thank you for this and so much more for your decades of service. We’re also our special thanks to representatives like Jerry Nadler, who first introduced Respect for Marriage Act a decade ago. David Cicilline and Cherise Davis as leaders of the Equality Caucus and so many others, many of whom are here today who did what was right. Standing behind me are dozens of plaintiffs up there. Don’t jump.

For dozens of plaintiffs who fought for marriage equality through the years as well as families whose existence would not be possible without the bonds of love and this law honors and protects. Look, we’re here today to celebrate their courage and everyone who made today possible. Courage that led to progress. We’ve seen over the decades, progress, it gives us hope that every generation will continue our journey toward a more perfect union. On this day, I think of Mildred and Richard Loving a young woman of color and a young white man. They met his family, friends, and eventually fell in love. In 1958, they drove to Washington DC to get married because the relationship was illegal in Virginia. They went back home. Five weeks later, police burst into their house and arrested them for the crime of being married.

The crime of being married. They were sentenced to one year in prison unless they agreed to leave Virginia and not return. For 25 years, they appealed the sentence and wasn’t until nine years later, in 1967, Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously. It declared that laws against interracial marriage were unconstitutional Today we’re joined by one of the lawyers who represented the Lovings and the widow of their other lawyer that took the fight to the highest court because they believed their love should not be criminalized, but should be honored and respected. As Mildred Loving said, “Previous generations were bitterly divided over something

Joe Biden (48:00):

That should have been so clear and right, so clear and right. No one could put it better. And later Mildred fought something else that’s so clear and right. Marriage equality for LGBTQ Americans. And today we celebrate our progress from Hawaii, the first state to declare that denying marriage of same-sex couples unconstitutional; to Massachusetts, the first state to legalize marriage equality for couples like Gina and Heidi, who you just heard from. To all the advocates that worked to block or overturned state bans. As you heard earlier, Vice President Harris took a stand as Attorney General in California, talked earlier. Others also spoke out. One of them was my son, Beau Biden, who was Attorney General of the state of Delaware, who filed on brief of the Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality and pushed to add gender identity protections into the law as well.

Today, remember Edie Windsor and her partner, and her partner, Thea. In 1965, they met in their thirties. They fell in love secretly. Secretly got engaged. Edie wore an engagement pin rather than a ring to avoid questions. They had 40 wonderful years together. Then Thea was diagnosed with MS, and Edie became her full-time caregiver. They went to Canada and they got married. As Edie would say, don’t postpone joy. And then Thea had died soon after. Grieving Edie learned since their marriage was legally illegal, wasn’t legally recognized, she would have to pay $360,000 in the state taxes. Viewed as strangers rather than partners for four decades, simply unconscionable and unacceptable. So Edie took her case to the Supreme Court and she won.

Before Edie passed away, she fell in love again at age 87. Finally experienced the joy and dignity of legally recognized marriage to Judith. Judith is here today with us. Judith, are you up there?

Also here today are many of the 16 plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage case that help bring us here. They were subjected to intense public scrutiny and harassment, physical threats and violence for years as the case has made their way through the courts. Jim couldn’t be here today, but he and I spoke on that day in June 2015 when he was one on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. I called him right after that historic victory of victory, not just for the plaintiffs but for the whole country, and I would argue for the world.

My fellow Americans, the road to this moment has been long, but those who believed in equality and justice, you never gave up. Many of you standing on the South Lawn here, so many of you put your relationships in the line, your jobs on the line, your lives on the line to fight for the law I’m about to sign. From me and the entire nation, thank you, thank you, thank you.

It’s one thing for the Supreme Court to rule on a case, but it’s another thing entirely if elected representatives of the people take a vote on the floor of the United States Congress and say loudly and clearly, “Love is love, right is right, justice is justice.” These things are fundamental things that America thinks matter. So sadly, we must also acknowledge another reason we’re here.

Congress is acting because of an extreme Supreme Court has stripped away the right important to millions of Americans that existed for half a century, the Dobbs decision. The court’s extreme conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to choose. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas went even further and he wrote the following quote: “We should reconsider all the Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, Obergefell.” That means he thinks we should reconsider whether you got the right to access contraception. And yes, we should reconsider whether you have the right to marry who you love. And that’s not only the challenge ahead. When a person can be married in the morning and thrown out of a restaurant for being gay in the afternoon, this is still wrong. Wrong.

And that’s why the people you heard speak today continue to fight to pass the Equality Act.

When hospitals, libraries, and community centers are threatened and intimidated because they support LGBTQ children and families, we have to speak out. We must stop the hate and violence, like we just saw in Colorado Springs, where a place of acceptance and celebration was targeted for violence and terror. We need to challenge the hundreds of callous, cynical laws introduced in the state’s targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors who give children the care they need. We have to protect these children so they know they’re loved and we will stand up for them and say they can seek for themselves.

Folks, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, they’re all connected, but the antidote to hate is love. This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms. And that’s why this law matters to every single American, no matter who you are or who you love. This shouldn’t be about conservative or liberal, red or blue. No, this is about realizing the promise of the Declaration of Independence, a promise rooted in a sacred and secular beliefs, a promise that we’re all created equal. We’re all entitled to what Abraham Lincoln called an open field and a fair chance. There’s nothing more decent, more dignified, more American that we’re about what we’re doing here today. It’s about who we are as a nation. It’s about the substance of our laws. It’s about being true to the best of the soul of America. Decency, dignity, love.

Let me close with something else that happened on the same day that Congress sent me this bill. Britney Griner was finally on our way home. I got to know her incredible wife has worked to bring Britney home from run Justin imprisonment in Russia. We were together in the Oval Office, her wife and I. We heard Britney’s voice on the phone when she was freed and we addressed the nation together. When we did that, Britney’s wife said, “Today, my family is whole.” My fellow Americans, that all-consuming, life-altering love and commitment, that’s marriage.

Thank you to everyone on the hard fought victory generations in the making. It’s been a long road. We got it done. We’re going to continue the work ahead, I promise you. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. And now, let me sign the Respect for Marriage Act in the law.

[inaudible 00:56:37]

Speaker 7 (56:37):

Yes, I did.

Joe Biden (56:43):

All right.

Speaker 8 (57:21):

She was that day.

Joe Biden (57:24):

Here we go.

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