Republican Bills Want Federal Government to Defer to States' Rights on Same-Sex Marriage

Two Tea Party senators today introduced companion legislation to a bill that would ensure the federal government recognizes a state’s choice on how it defines marriage.


Currently, 33 states define marriage as a union between a man and a woman while 17 states recognize same-sex unions.

“How a state should define marriage should be left up to the citizens of each state,” said State Marriage Defense Act co-sponsor Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “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.”

Co-sponsor Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said “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,” Cruz said. “This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for its residents.”

The senators say that the United States v. Windsor ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional “requires the federal government to respect the primacy of the states in defining marriage.”

Last month, Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 in the House. Co-sponsors include Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

“Despite striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor did not institute a new Federal definition of marriage that includes same sex marriage. Instead, United States v. Windsor specifically required the Federal Government to defer to ‘state sovereign choices about who may be married’ in determining marital status for Federal purposes,” that bill states.


“United States v. Windsor reaffirmed that the ‘historic and essential authority to define the marital relation’ rests with the States and criticized Federal actions that ‘put a thumb on the scales and influence a state’s decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws’. Congress recognizes that current actions by the Federal Government to afford benefits to certain relationships not recognized as marriages by a person’s State of residence go beyond the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor. These Federal actions create ‘two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State,’ in direct contradiction of United States v. Windsor,” it continues.

“Actions taken by the Federal Government to grant recognition of marital status for persons not recognized as married in their State of domicile undermine a State’s legitimate authority to define marriage for its residents.”


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