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Marriage equality is one step closer to being codified into federal law. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-169 in favor of the legislation. It now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.
All Democratic members of the House voted for the bill. They were joined by 39 Republicans.
The bill already passed in the House earlier this year but was stuck in the Senate for some time. The Senate voted for the bill last week after months of negotiations in order to get enough votes to prevent a filibuster -- a motion that would have prevented the bill from going to a vote. The House only had to vote in support of the Senate's version, which was slightly different from the one the House passed earlier, as it included an amendment aimed at allaying fears about interference with religious freedom.
Biden has supported the bill and is expected to sign it.
The legislation protects same-sex marriages, guaranteeing them federal rights and benefits. It also repeals the Defense of Marriage Act -- also known as DOMA -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented the federal government from recognizing them. DOMA has been invalidated by the Supreme Court but remains on the books. It also will force states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states -- although critics have taken issue that the bill does not force states to perform same-sex marriages.
The Respect for Marriage Act also protects the rights of interracial couples.
The push for the bill came after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas urged the overturning of the court's 2015 marriage equality decision, and the legislation will maintain equal marriage rights even if the court takes such an action.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a speech after the vote that the legislation was "a glorious triumph of love and freedom."
"Today's vote in the House of Representatives sends a clear message: love is winning. At a time when the LGBTQ+ community continues to face ongoing attacks - from deadly violence to legislative assaults on our rights -- today's vote is a clear victory for this country's 568,000 same-sex married couples, including me," Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said in a statement. "The fact that this bill passed with strong bipartisan support in both chambers proves that marriage equality is supported by a wide swath of the American people. We eagerly await the president's signature on this important legislation -- and look forward to continuing to fight for full equality for everyone in our community, without exception."
GLAAD president and CEO,Sarah Kate Ellis said, "Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act today is a victory for LGBTQ couples and couples of different races, and a bipartisan recognition that our families are accepted, supported and worthy of the same protections as any other. This legislation will safeguard much-needed protections for millions of couples who are baselessly vulnerable in today's hostile political climate at the state level and in the courts."
Ellis added, "It's long past time for politicians to catch up to the supermajority of Americans of every party who support shared values of equal treatment, and our right to be free from discrimination and to have the same chances to belong, contribute and succeed in our communities and in our country."
A Gallup poll from June showed that 71 percent of Americans supported marriage equality.
This is a developing story...