Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee joined Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas to introduce S. 2024, the State Marriage Defense Act, which prohibits Congress or any federal court from defining the terms “marriage” or “spouse” to anything different than a state may have defined them.
The bill defines its purpose as:
“Prohibits, in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of U.S. administrative bureaus and agencies, as applied with respect to individuals domiciled in a state or in any other territory or possession of the United States: (1) the term “marriage” from including any relationship that the state, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage; and (2) the term “spouse” from including an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that state, territory, or possessionThe bill will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions.”
“How a state should define marriage should be left up to the citizens of each state,” said Lee. “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.”
“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,” said Cruz. “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.”
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing at the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement, “This is just another attempt to undermine the valid marriages of loving same-sex couples. We will work with our allies on the Hill, on both sides of the aisle, to make sure this bill does not pass.”
In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court held Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. Eighteen federal and state cases that have gone through courts across the nation since the ruling have all been decided in favor of same-sex 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,” Cruz wrote in a statement.
The bill has little chance of becoming law, making it a message bill to bolster Lee’s and Cruz’ reelection funds.