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Cruz reintroduces bill to strip federal marriage benefits in states where gay marriage not legal

Cruz reintroduces bill to strip federal marriage benefits in states where gay marriage not legal
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), joined by 11 fellow GOP Senators, re-introduced the State Marriage Defense Act on Tuesday, a bill that would require the federal government to recognize only marriages that are valid under the laws of the state in which a couple reside.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

“Even though the Supreme Court made clear in United States v. Windsor that the federal government should defer to state ‘choices about who may be married,’ the Obama administration has disregarded state marriage laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures to uphold traditional marriage,” said Cruz, in a statement.

“I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states,” he said.

The Human Rights Campaign condemned the legislation as a reckless and irresponsible attack on same-sex couples and their families.

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The legislation would roll back the federal government’s implementation of the Windsor decision, which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and extended recognition to the lawful marriages of same-sex couples for most federal spousal benefits.

Agencies across the federal government have since taken steps to recognize married same-sex couples for most federal purposes, even if they currently live in a state that does not itself respect their marriages.

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The bill would strip federal rights and benefits from married same-sex couples – like federal employee health benefits, military spouse benefits, immigration rights, and many others – if they reside in a state where same-sex marriage is not yet legal.

A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas).

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“Ted Cruz and Randy Weber are proposing legislation that would do real harm to legally married same-sex couples in states across this country,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs.

“But what really stands out is the fact that they would use this reckless and irresponsible legislation to take important federal benefits away from their own Texas constituents,” said Winterhof. “This just solidified their standing as two of the most extreme opponents of equality in America.”

The measure comes just months before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether same-sex couples have a constitutionally-protected right to marry; the court will hear cases in April from four states where marriage bans were upheld, and a decision could come by June.

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