WASHINGTON — Two GOP Senate lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that would require federal agencies to use a person’s state of residence to determine federal recognition of marital status.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the “State Marriage Defense Act,” which would require the federal government to defer to the laws of a person’s state of legal residence in determining marital status for purposes of federal benefits.
“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, in a statement.
“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,” he said.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.
Article continues belowSection 3 of DOMA had codified the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns.
Since the ruling, most federal agencies have been updating policies and recognizing legally married same-sex couples, even if they currently reside in one of 33 states where same-sex marriage is not legal.
A companion bill, introduced last month in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), has 58 sponsors.