Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an anti-same-sex marriage bill that would strip federal marriage benefits from same-sex couples living in states where only mixed-gender marriages are recognized.
According to David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement, Cruz’s State Marriage Defense Act will also give anti-same-sex marriage states the right to nullify the marriages of same-sex couples living within their borders, should the Supreme Court find that such couples ultimately do not have the same right to marry as other U.S. citizens.
Cruz has framed the bill as a “states’ rights” issue, insisting that the federal government has no say in determining whose marriages a state will recognize and whose it will not.
Currently, couples living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage can travel to other states to be legally married and thereby receive federal benefits on taxes, retirement and other matters.
Cruz hopes to put a stop to that. He is also hoping to reverse the gains made by same-sex marriage advocates on the federal level when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned in 2013.
DOMA was the 1996 federal law that defined marriage in the U.S. as being between one man and one woman. Cruz’s State Marriage Defense Act would reinstate that definition and make it legal to discriminate against same-sex relationships in conservative states.
The bill states that “the term ‘marriage’ shall not include any relationship which that State, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage, and the term ‘spouse’ shall not include an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that State, territory, or possession.”
The action comes just as President Barack Obama has urged the Supreme Court to go further than its 2013 decisions with regard to same-sex marriage. In remarks to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, Obama said that he believes “the Supreme Court is about to make a shift, one that I welcome, which is to recognize that — having hit a critical mass of states that have recognized same-sex marriage — it doesn’t make sense for us to now have this patchwork system.”
Cruz is one of the many Republicans attempting to position themselves for a 2016 run at the presidential nomination. His bill was sponsored by multiple Republicans in the Senate. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) has concurrently introduced a House version.