The House passed a bill this week that updates and clears up any misconception that women and LGBTQ+ Americans cannot be president of the United States.
The legislation, called the 21st Century President Act, now officially allows women and LGBTQ+ people to become president. The bill was passed by a voice vote.
The same bill passed the House in the last Congress by a voice vote as well, the Hill reports.
Tuesday's vote targeted part of the U.S. code that concerns threats to presidents, former presidents, and their "immediate family." The issue is that the code defines immediate family as “the wife of a former President during his lifetime, the widow of a former President until her death or remarriage, and minor children of a former President until they reach sixteen years of age.”
The bill now strikes that wording and changes it to, “the spouse of a former President during a former President’s lifetime, the surviving spouse of a former President until the surviving 10 spouse’s death or remarriage.”
The outlet notes that Hillary Clinton was the first woman presidential candidate of a major party, that Pete Buttigieg was a leading democratic candidate in the 2020 election, and that Kamala Harris became the first woman vice president with a second man. All of whom have spouses that don't fit the code's definition of "immediate family."
Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Mark Pocan, the sponsor of the bill, said in a House floor speech, “Someday there could be a President Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Tammy Baldwin or Pete Buttigieg or President Nikki Haley or Kristi Noem or Liz Cheney.”
“The words in law matter," he continued. "It is critically important that federal law recognizes that we could have a president who is not a man or even a straight man and that they and their families deserve equal protection under the law.”
Gay Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who was a co-sponsor of the bill, took floor and said the previous wording “disregards the fact that a president may be female, and the president’s spouse may not be,” the Hill reports. He added that “this does not reflect the progress we’ve made in this country.”
“Although we still have a long way to go, both in equality and representation, our country’s government is growing closer to finally representing our nation’s brilliant diversity. Our laws must reflect the fact that a president and their spouse can be of any gender,” Cicilline said.