WASHINGTON - The House will vote Thursday on historic legislation that would federally protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights. Passage of the bill would move it to President Joe Biden who is expected to sign it into law.
What is it?: The Respect for Marriage Act, passed by the Senate last week, guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two people if it was valid in the state where they were married. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere, but does not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own law.
Some Republicans support it: It passed the Senate 61 to 36 in November with a dozen Republicans in support. The House approved a similar bill earlier this year with nearly 50 Republicans in support.
Biden expected to sign: If passed, the Respect for Marriage Act would head to Biden's desk to be signed into law.
Speaker Pelosi highlights LGBTQ trailblazers
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports the Respect for Marriage Act in memory of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first same-sex couple recognized in San Francisco and pioneers for civil rights.
"Today, we stand up to the values the vast majority of Americans hold dear - a belief in the dignity, beauty and divinity in every person in abiding respect for love so powerful that it binds two people together," she said, standing next to a large photo of Lyon and Martin.
Pelosi said when she was first sworn into office, her first speech on the House floor fought discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.
"My final bill, as speaker the first time, one of the final bills that I signed, was the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," she added. "And now one of the final bills that I will sign in the enrollment will be this beautiful legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, and that we are passing today."
Rep. Jordan: 'No place for violence'
In response to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., referencing the shooting at a Colorado LGBTQ club last month, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said while the Colorado shooting was "as wrong as could be," it was also wrong when churches and crisis pregnancy centers were attacked after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year.
"There is no place for violence, but let's be clear: let's condemn all of it," Jordan said. Of the Supreme Court, Jordan said, "Let's do what we can to protect it. And let's not stay on this concerted effort to intimidate the court."
Rep. Jeffries: 'Respect liberty and justice for all'
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the next leader of House Democrats, referenced the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and said the Respect for Marriage Act has brought those words to light.
Jeffries said the work on the legislation is in response to the conservative and "reckless" Supreme Court majority that threatens freedom.
"Respect freedom, respect liberty and justice for all," he said.
LGBTQ representative: 'We must rise to the challenge and we will prevail'
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., the first openly gay member of color elected to the House said the legislation is a reminder of the necessity for vigilance in the fight for human rights.
"When my colleagues and I pass the Respect for Marriage Act in the House today, it will mean the world to me, my loved ones and to millions of Americans," he said.
"We must rise to the challenge and we will prevail," he added.
Rep. Allred urges colleagues to support bill
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, highlighted the "huge relief" over the news that WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was freed from a Russian prison Thursday morning, will be returning home to her wife and family.
"The U.S. Congress will vote in a bipartisan way to pass the Respect for Marriage Act enshrining marriage equality into federal law and protecting marriages just like Brittney's," he said.
Rep. Jordan: Legislation 'does not go far enough' to protect religious liberty
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the same-sex marriage legislation "does not go far enough" to protect religious liberty.
"This bill is simply the latest installment of the Democrats' campaign to intimidate the highest court in our land," he said.
Jordan said Democrats want Americans to believe the Supreme Court could step in and overturn opinions like in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Marriage ruling 5-year anniversary: Acceptance, advancement, but opposition remains
"It's just not true," he said, saying the Supreme Court is not poised to overturn its opinions in Obergefell or Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Nancy Pelosi: 'Overjoyed' that the vote on Respect for Marriage Act is one of final bills as speaker
Nancy Pelosi, who announced last month she'd step down from her role as House speaker, celebrated the Respect for Marriage Act in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday.
"I am overjoyed that one of the final bills I will sign as speaker will be the Respect for Marriage Act: ensuring the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love," she wrote.
Overturning of Roe v. Wade spurred action on same-sex marriage
Lawmakers drafted the bill following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas expressed interest in reconsidering same-sex and interracial marriage rights in a separate concurring opinion that no other justice joined.
Pelosi took aim at Thomas in her op-ed Wednesday, saying "While his legal reasoning is twisted and unsound, we must take Justice Thomas - and the extremist movement behind him - at their word."
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What does the Respect for Marriage Act do? The bill just passed the Senate. What to know.
How does the bill address religion?
Some Republican lawmakers argued the bill would infringe on the rights of churches and other faith-based organizations, which could be punished for refusing to participate in or recognize gay unions if the legislation passed.
But senators added an amendment to the bill that left room for religious or conscientious objections. Bipartisan sponsors of the bill said the religious freedom language inserted in the amendment would protect churches and other faith-based entities from such infringements.
If the bill is signed into law, individuals or groups would not be legally required to provide services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if it's against their religious beliefs. It also would not recognize polygamous unions.
More: Senate advances same-sex marriage bill that also includes religious freedom protections
Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Passage would put 'fears to rest'
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay person to serve in the Senate, said its passage would allay the concerns of same-sex and interracial couples worried their civil marriage rights and recognition could be stripped away.
"The Senate has the opportunity to put those fears to rest and give millions of people in same sex and interracial marriages the certainty, dignity and respect that they need and deserve," she said before the vote.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House same-sex-marriage vote: Rights bill to get Thursday vote