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House passes bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage

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The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act a vote of 258-169 on Thursday, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act a vote of 258-169 on Thursday, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that provides federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage.

The Respect for Marriage Act passed by a vote of 258-169 and now heads to President Joe Biden's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. It had passed the Senate 61-36.

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"Your love is your choice," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the floor Thursday. "The pursuit of happiness means you can love whom you choose."

The legislation requires the federal government and all states to recognize marriages if the pair was wed in a state where the union was legal. It also cements protections for interracial couples, ordering states to recognize marriages regardless of "the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals."

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It also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and refers to the word spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife."

Before making it through the Senate, the bill was amended in response to Senate GOP demands. It clarified that religious organizations won't be required to perform same-sex marriages and that government will not be forced to protect polygamous marriages.

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Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the first openly gay member of Congress, attended the vote in the Capitol.

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"It's a sign of enormous political change in America," he told NBC News. "And it's meaningful for people. It's real. It's not a symbolic gesture. I know a lot of married gay and lesbian people who have been worried ever since [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas said what he said. So this is reassurance to them as well."

In his June opinion in the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, Thomas said the Supreme Court should reconsider rulings on contraception and same-sex marriage.

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RELATED U.S. Senate passes bill to protect same-sex, interracial marriage

RELATED U.S. Senate passes bill to protect same-sex, interracial marriage

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