Sam Smith Changes 'Stay with Me' Lyric During 'Historic' Respect for Marriage Act Signing Performance

Sam Smith performed at the Respect for Marriage Act signing earlier this week in Washington, D.C., alongside Cyndi Lauper

Sam Smith performs on the South Lawn of the White House during the bill signing ceremony for the Respect for Marriage Act in Washington, DC on December 13, 2022. Respect for Marriage Act Signing, White House, Washington, D.C., USA - 13 Dec 2022
Sam Smith. Photo: Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

Sam Smith is representing the times.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden officially signed the Respect for Marriage Act, affirming federal acknowledgment of both same-sex and interracial marriage.

Performing their hit track "Stay with Me" at the signing ceremony, Smith, 30, changed one lyric in the song from "This ain't love, it's clear to see" to "This is love, it's clear to see," which they said in an Instagram post Wednesday was done "to mark the historic occasion."

"My deepest thanks to President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for inviting me to perform at the White House, it was a true honor," Smith — who uses they/them pronouns — wrote on social media.

They added: "Watching President Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act was a landmark moment for freedom of love and hopefully just the beginning of the important work ahead to continue to expand the protections of the LGBTQ+, non-binary and transgender communities; and build towards a world where love is celebrated regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexuality."

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Singer Sam Smith performs before President Joe Biden speaks during a bill signing ceremony for the Respect for Marriage Act, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Biden Gay Marriage, Washington, United States - 13 Dec 2022
Sam Smith. Andrew Harnik/AP/Shutterstock

Biden, 80, signed the landmark bill on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, following the House of Representatives' final approval of the legislation in a 258-169 vote last Thursday morning. (The U.S. Senate passed the bill last month, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats in support.)

The politician was joined at the signing by guests including Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting, civil rights attorney Philip Hirschkop (who represented Mildred and Richard Loving in the landmark interracial marriage case Loving v. Virginia) and plaintiffs from the landmark same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges.

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Alongside Smith, Cyndi Lauper also made a musical guest appearance, where she sang her own tune "True Colors" ahead of the legislation's signing. Upon signing the bill, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" could be heard as those looking on applauded the bill becoming law.

"Today, I sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law. Deciding who to marry is one of the most profound decisions a person can make. As I've said before, and some of you might remember, on a certain TV show 10 years ago ... marriage is a simple proposition: who do you love and will you be loyal to that person you love? It's not more complicated than that," Biden said during opening remarks, drawing on a now-famous appearance he made as vice president on Meet the Press in 2012.

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The Respect for Marriage Act officially appeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defined marriage as involving a man and woman and gave states the authority to refuse recognition of same-sex couples who had married.

It was first introduced in 2009 and, though it passed the House and was moved to the Senate floor in 2011, the Senate vote never occurred. After Obergefell v. Hodges — a landmark civil rights case that reached the Supreme Court and legalized same-sex marriage nationwide on June 26, 2015 — there seemed to be no reason to continue pushing for it — until the events of this year.

On June 24, in the most significant unraveling of human rights in modern history, the heavily conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating pregnant people's constitutional right to abortion and paving a path to come for contraceptives and same-sex relationships next.

The new law is not able to require state governments to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or grant them state-level marriage benefits, as states have the ultimate authority over marriage benefits, second only to the Supreme Court.

What it can do, according to language previously released, is "require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed" and "guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple's sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin."

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