Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced a Senate version of the “State Marriage Defense Act,” a bill that would prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize them. This “You’re Not Married Anymore” bill would mean that families would lose all their federal protections simply by crossing the border into another state.
The legislation is a workaround since the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last year, reasoning that the federal government could not refuse to recognize legally valid marriages performed in the states. Since then, the Obama administration has been using a “place of celebration” standard, meaning that as long as a same-sex couple’s marriage was valid where it was performed, it continues to be valid for most federal purposes (like tax benefits, etc.), even if they travel or move to a state that bans same-sex marriage.
According to Cruz, state authority should supersede the legal protections of these families:
CRUZ: 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 its residents.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) introduced a similar bill in the House last month, admitting that he hadn’t even read the Supreme Court’s decision before he filed it. The National Organization for Marriage has praised the bills because the values of citizens who voted to ban same-sex marriage are “continually under threat.”
Ironically, this tactic to undermine marriage equality directly contradicts the principles of another attempt, the so-called “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” which would allow religious individuals to disregard state definitions of marriage if they wished to discriminate against same-sex couples.