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The Foundry: Cruz and Lee Act to Protect State Freedom in Marriage Debate

Yesterday, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) took an important step in ensuring that the federal government respects the freedom of states to make marriage policy in the wake of last summer’s Supreme Court decision on marriage.

The Senators introduced the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (S. 2024), which would require the federal government to look to the laws of the state where citizens reside to determine the definition of marriage. It 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.”

Representative Randy Weber (R-TX) is sponsoring the House version of the legislation (H.R. 3829).

Introduction of the bill comes just days after Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new Department of Justice policy regarding marriage: “[E]ven in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized, the federal government will not use state views as a basis to object to someone in a same-sex marriage invoking this right.” Earlier this year, he announced that the federal government will recognize the marriage licenses of same-sex couples in Utah—even though the state had announced that it would not.

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