These LGBTQ couples, including one trans lawmaker, got engaged during the Respect for Marriage signing at the White House

These LGBTQ couples, including one trans lawmaker, got engaged at the White House during the Respect for Marriage Act signing


On Tuesday (December 13), U.S. President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act, codifying into law protections for same-sex and interracial couples.


“The road to this moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice, you never gave up,” Biden said. “So many of you put your relationships on the line, your jobs on the line, your lives on the line, to fight for the law I’m about to sign. For me and the entire nation: thank you, thank you, thank you.”



The signing took place in front of 5,400 attendees, on the White House South Lawn.

Numerous plaintiffs in LGBTQ+ rights legal cases stood on the steps behind Biden as he spoke.

The President was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke before Biden, and artists Sam Smith and Cindy Lauper performed.


Amidst the celebrations, there were also some engagements – including Vermont’s first out transgender state legislator.

Taylor Small Vermont
Taylor Small was elected as State Representative in November 2020, making her the first out transgender person to serve in the Vermont Legislature. Image: Glenn Russell


Taylor Small attended the historic signing with Carsen Russell, her partner of four years, who popped the question the South Lawn of the White House.

“We’re officially en-GAY-ged!” Small, who was elected to represent Vermont’s Chittenden 6-7 district in 2020, tweeted following the signing. “I, of course, said YES and could not think of a more fitting way to celebrate this moment.”



“I don’t think my partner could have planned a more #iconic proposal,” Small then tweeted. “To say I was surprised would be an understatement.”



Shortly after the bill was signed, Small told VT Digger that the Respect for Marriage Act “feels like a stepping stone in the larger work that we need to do to protect and really concretely support LGBTQ rights. But a major one, nonetheless, for our community.”


Small and Russell weren’t the only queer couple to leave the signing betrothed.


“He said yes! 🌈” Rob Snyder wrote on Twitter.

“When @AlexOrtonWV and I met 8 years ago, same-sex marriage was illegal in West Virginia and many other places. Today at the @WhiteHouse, @POTUS signed the #RespectForMarriageAct into law, and Alex and I decided to spend the rest of our lives together. #LoveWins.”



Along with non-binary icon Sam Smith, 80s legend and lifelong LGBTQ+ advocate performed at the ceremony (video below).


Read more on why we named Cyndi Lauper a MVA (Most Valuable Ally), by clicking here.



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