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Take a look back at the history of interracial and same-sex marriages

Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, center, stands on the steps of the Texas Capitol, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay
/
AP
Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, center, stands on the steps of the Texas Capitol, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

The House and Senate have passed the Respect for Marriage Act, granting another layer of federal protections to both same-sex and interracial marriages.

It will now go to President Biden, who is expected to sign it. Both types of marriages have already been deemed constitutional on a national scale, but the Respect for Marriage Act was drafted soon after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, amid fears that other constitutional rights would be targeted.

Here's a look at some of the legal precedents surrounding interracial and same-sex marriages.

Loving v. Virginia

Laws against interracial marriage had been in place since the 1600s; Maryland banned them in 1691.

Interracial marriage was made legal in the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. Mildred Loving, a woman of color, and her white husband, Richard Loving, were sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for their relationship, but appealed their conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court bypassed Virginia's state law, and ruled that marriage was a constitutional right and the banning of interracial marriage was a violation of the 14th Amendment, which states that the government must not stand in the way of a citizen's "life, liberty, or property," unless authorized.

Same-sex marriage

One of the earliest lawsuits seeking the validation of same-sex marriages in the court of law was the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson.

Two gay students at the University of Minnesota wanted to marry, but were told no by the county clerk because they were men. The students continued to lose the case and eventually sent it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it refused to hear the case.

In 1996, same-sex marriage was banned through the Defense of Marriage Act. But in 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, reasoning that disallowing it violated the state constitution.

Several states followed suit over the years, and the DOMA was reversed by the Supreme Court in 2013 for its unconstitutionality. The Court later ruled in 2015 in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights and privileges of marriage as straight couples under the 14th Amendment.

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Ayana Archie
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