On the evening of Tuesday, the south portico of the White House was illuminated with a rainbow of colors, a symbolic gesture by the Biden administration. This followed the signing earlier in the day of the Respect for Marriage Act by President Biden, an important piece of legislation that extends federal protections to same-sex marriages. The signing took place during a celebratory event on the South Lawn, attended by more than 2,000 guests.
In his remarks at the event, President Biden acknowledged the challenges faced in reaching this milestone, stating, “The journey to this moment has been lengthy, but for those who advocate for equality and justice, your perseverance has never wavered.”
Initially projected during the signing ceremony, the rainbow-colored lights grew increasingly vibrant as the sun set later in the day.
This gesture recalls a similar event during the Obama administration when the White House was lit up with rainbow colors on its north side following the historic Obergefell v. Hodges ruling by the Supreme Court in 2015, which established the right to same-sex marriage.
The impetus for passing the Respect for Marriage Act came in response to a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas during a Supreme Court decision related to abortion protections. Thomas called for a reconsideration of the Obergefell ruling, prompting a bipartisan effort. Ultimately, the Act received support from both Democrats and 39 House Republicans, along with 12 Senate Republicans.
The Act has significant implications, requiring federal recognition of marriages conducted in other states and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 legislation that defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.
Additionally, the Act reinforces protections for marriages between individuals of different races, upholding the principles of equality and inclusivity.
During the event on Tuesday, President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used the occasion to advocate for the passage of the Equality Act, which seeks to solidify protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In his impassioned words, President Biden stated, “It remains unjust and wrong when someone can be married in the morning and then be refused service at a restaurant due to their sexual orientation in the afternoon.”