Cynthia Choi and Manjusha Kulkarni at the White House signing of the Respect for Marriage Act.

By Cynthia Choi, CAA Co-Executive Director

December 13, 2022

I was incredibly honored to be able to join President Biden and Vice President Harris in this historic moment as the President signed the Respect for Marriage Act protecting LGBTQ+ communities and interracial married couples.

The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. However, this new law only protects the federal rights and benefits of LGBTQ+ and interracial married couples. While states will have to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages from other states, it does not guarantee an interracial or LGBTQ+ couple’s right to marry in every state. There is still much more work to be done in ensuring that the right to marry belongs to everyone regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender or state residency.

For example, we have witnessed an unprecedented attack on LGBTQ+ communities, especially trans and non-binary people in the last few years from mass shootings at gay clubs, to armed protests by the far-right at drag story hours across the country, to over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills aimed at stripping away the fundamental rights of the community.

And far too many in the AAPI community have long used rhetoric and wedge politics to perpetuate hate and violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Asian Pacific Islander (API) Equality project, now called Lavender Phoenix, was founded for this very reason in 2004 in response to a 6,000 person rally against marriage equality organized by Chinese Christian leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area. But the LGBTQ+ community and its allies fought and won equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in California and across the country. Those who hate will not have the last say in the movement for marriage equality.

One next step is to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expand the definition of public accommodations.

Love is love, and love must win over hate.