Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on Marriage

Image: Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on Marriage

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 07:04 PM

By Greg Richter

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Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a bill Wednesday to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages and spouses from same-sex unions in other states.

"Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to redefine marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens," The Hill reported Cruz as saying on Thursday. "The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states."

The bill comes after Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ordered the Justice Department to treat all same-sex marriages the same – even if the couple involved does not currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Holder's rule would apply to same-sex couples that deal with the federal government, but would not apply to state laws that deal with such issues as spousal benefits.

The bill by Cruz, of Texas, and Lee, of Utah, appears to be an attempt to head off any future move to also apply those rules to state governments.

Thirty-three states currently define marriage between one man and one woman, while 17 allow people of the same gender to wed.

When the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it ruled that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that have been made legal in those states. Cruz said his bill seeks the same protection for states where gay marriage is illegal.

"Redefining marriage will entail high social costs," writes Ryan T. Anderson at Heritage.org in response to the bill. "Thus all Americans should insist our laws embody the truth about marriage. And the federal government should respect it when state laws do so."

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