Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee Introduce State Marriage Defense Act

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced S. 2024, the State Marriage Defense Act, which allows states to set their own standards as to what defines marriage and protects the states from having the federal government encroach on that territory. 

Thirty-three states define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Cruz stated:

I support traditional marriage. Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens. The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states. We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington. This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for [their] residents.

Lee echoed:

How a state should define marriage should be left up to the citizens of each state. It is clear the Obama administration finds the principles of federalism inconvenient in its effort to force states to redefine the institution of marriage. The State Marriage Defense Act provides an important protection for states, respecting the right to choose for themselves how each will treat the institution of marriage under the law.

As Cruz’s website asserts:

In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court improperly held Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court's reasoning requires the federal government to respect the primacy of the states in defining marriage. Unfortunately, since the Windsor decision, the Obama Administration’s agenda to force same-sex marriage has led both to the violation of these principles and to the rise of inconsistencies among several federal agencies that either look to the law of the state where an individual lives to determine eligibility for marital benefits or recognize marriages based solely on the law of the state where a marriage ceremony was held. The State Marriage Defense Act will correct this inconsistency and protect states from an out of control administration that is seeking to force same sex marriage upon states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

United States v. Windsor was the case in which Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer married in Toronto in 2007, where same-sex marriages were legal. At the time the women moved to New York, the state recognized their marriage. 

When Spyer died, the IRS denied Windsor a spousal estate tax exception because under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the federal government did not recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of federal benefits. 

The Obama administration argued that the use of sexual orientation to determine which people could receive benefits was a suspect classification that deserved higher scrutiny, which means DOMA would be impermissible. Opponents argued that DOMA was a rational solution to the very real government objective of having a uniform definition of marriage.


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