White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on historic Respect for Marriage Act signing

A graphic showing a close-up of White House’s first Black and openly gay press secretary Karine-Jean-Pierre smiling and behind her is a cut-out image of Nancy Pelosi signing the Respect for Marriage Act. The background shows the American flag slightly faded and tinted pink

White House’s first Black and openly gay press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, has shared her thoughts on what the Respect For Marriage (RMA) Act signing means to both her, and LGBTQ+ people across the United States.

On Tuesday, 13 December, US president Joe Biden signed the RMA, meaning same-sex and interracial marriage is now codified into US law by repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman only.

During the historic moment, Jean-Pierre spoke from the Brady Briefing Room podium about what the day means. 

“This is a big day for me, but not just me,” she said.

“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.”

You may like to watch

Jean-Pierre, who said she had just come from being with Biden, shared her admiration for the president. 

“The thing that I remember was ten years ago…when he [Biden] was on Meet the Press, and he said something that really no other national elected official was saying at the time.”

During a 2012 appearance on the NBC political show, then vice-president Biden openly endorsed marriage equality in an interview that has since seen him change US policy.

“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 predicted at the time.

“Mark my words. And my job – our job – is to keep this momentum rolling to the inevitable.”

Jean-Pierre said “[Biden] has always been an ally”.

She continued: “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.”

After signing the act Biden announced: “Today, America takes a vital step toward equality, liberty and justice. Not just for some, but for everyone.”

He shared his belief that one of the most “profound decisions a person can make” is to marry the person they love, adding it was a shame that the US “had denied interracial couples and same-sex couples” vital legal protections.

“We failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect,” he said.

The historic moment has been celebrated worldwide, with politicians, human rights organisations, and various other groups taking to Twitter to broadcast their delight. 

Please login or register to comment on this story.