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Karine Jean-Pierre Reflects on Historic Marriage Act Signing

Karine Jean-Pierre

The White House Press Secretary reflected on the significance of the day as the first out LGBTQ+ person to hold the position.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took a moment during Tuesday's White House Press Briefing to reflect upon the historic nature of the day.

Speaking from the Brady Briefing Room podium, Jean-Pierre celebrated that President Joe Biden would be signing the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies same-sex marriage and interracial marriages in federal law, before an assembled crowd on the South Lawn later in the afternoon.

The Biden-Harris Administration has put LGBTQ+ people at the forefront. For example, Biden nominated the first out gay cabinet secretary, Pete Buttigieg, and the first Senate-confirmed transgender person, Admiral Rachel Levine. In addition, Jean-Pierre is the first out gay Black woman to hold the job of chief spokesperson for the President of the United States.

"This is a big day for me, but not just me," Jean-Pierre said, responding to a question about what the day's significance means to her.

"There are many colleagues that I work with here who are allies, who are also part of the community, who are incredibly proud. We're going to see about two to three thousand people out on the South Lawn -- activists who have worked on this issue for decades."

Jean-Pierre said she had just come from being with Biden, who was going over his remarks for the ceremony.

"The thing that I remember was ten years ago...when he was on Meet the Press, and he said something that really no other national elected official was saying at the time," she continued.

In 2012, during an appearance on the long-running NBC political show, then-Vice President Biden came out in favor of marriage equality, even before former president Barack Obama did.

"Things are changing so rapidly, it's going to become a political liability in the near term for someone to say, 'I oppose gay marriage," Biden said at the time. "Mark my words. And my job -- our job -- is to keep this momentum rolling to the inevitable."

Tuesday afternoon marks the coming to fruition of Biden's decade-long pledge.

Today's signing comes at a time when the Supreme Court has positioned itself to potentially strip Americans of the right to marry who they love because of the reliance of that right on the court's opinion and not a law.

After this summer's Dobbs decision that overturnedRoe vs. Wade, when justice Clarence Thomas indicated his willingness to revisit other rights like that of consenting adults to engage in sex, marriage equality, and the right to contraception, activists raised the alarm that it was imperative to codify marriage equality into law.

As one of the final meaningful acts of a Democratic-controlled Congress and White House before Republicans take over the House, the Respect for Marriage Act is a significant step forward, though critics note that the law's religious exemptions go too far.

"[Biden] has always been an ally," Jean-Pierre said.

"I think I speak for many of us at the white house today that we could not be prouder to be working for this administration, to be working for this particular president, and to be working on all the issues that are going to change Americans' lives as we have seen historic legislation over the last 22 months," the press secretary concluded.

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