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House poised to pass bill protecting same-sex, interracial marriage

(WASHINGTON) — The House on Thursday is set to pass a bill to codify federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages, bringing the landmark legislation one step closer to landing on President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Ensuring same-sex marriage rights are protected between states became a top priority for Democrats in light of the Supreme Court’s June decision to overrule its precedent in 1973’s Roe v. Wade guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion.

Justice Clarence Thomas indicated in a concurring opinion at the time that he would like to see the court reverse the 2015 ruling Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteeing the national right to same-sex marriage, which was decided on similar grounds as Roe.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which is poised to pass the House with bipartisan support, would not codify Obergefell and set a national requirement that all states must license same-sex marriages. But it would require individual states to recognize a same-sex (or interracial) marriage that was lawfully performed in another state.

The Senate passed the bill last week, 61-36 — marking a victory for Democrats during the lame-duck after months of negotiations with Republicans. Twelve members of the GOP voted in support of the legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has said she is “particularly happy” the Respect for Marriage Act will be one of the last bills she signs in her role.

A signing ceremony is scheduled for Thursday following the bill’s expected passage that will include Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. David Cicilline, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Susan Collins.

“It has strong bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate. I think it’s a great step forward for us,” Pelosi said at a news conference last week.

Biden is prepared to sign the measure after it passes the House. In a statement after Senate passage last week, he said he will “promptly and proudly sign it into law.”

The House passed a similar version of this legislation earlier this year, with 47 Republicans supporting it. The Senate version includes new language to ease some GOP concerns about religious freedom.

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