Post submitted by Michael Cole-Schwartz, Former HRC Director of Communications​

The State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 has been introduced in both chambers of Congress, giving anti-LGBT lawmakers another obnoxious opportunity to try to deny recognition to loving and committed same-sex couples.  In essence, the bill would take away federal marriage recognition from thousands of lesbian and gay couples who are married but live in states where that marriage isn't recognized.  It’s being lead by Rep. Weber in the House and Sens. Cruz and Lee in the Senate.

What could charitably be called irony but more appropriately blatant hypocrisy, Congressman Weber and Senators Cruz and Lee were strong supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act.  That law, struck down by the Supreme Court last year, set a uniform federal standard on marriage – namely, only recognizing opposite-sex marriages and ignoring the right of states like Iowa to have the federal government respect their gay and lesbian citizens’ marriages.  In fact, it was lawyers for the U.S. House of Representatives who argued before the high court that one of the main purposes of the law was to set a single federal standard (ignoring the obvious anti-LGBT animus that was behind the bill’s passage in 1996).

Now, with the introduction of the State Defense of Marriage Act of 2014, they’ve changed their tune.  These leaders now believe there shouldn’t be one federal standard, but rather individual states should be able to invalidate federal recognition when a married same-sex couple simply crosses a border.  Apparently, for Weber, Cruz and Lee, respecting states’ rights only matters now, when it can be used to deny federal rights and benefits to loving, committed gay and lesbian couples.  Of course their hands are a bit tied given the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor — so while they would have preferred a federal standard of zero recognition their only option now is a state specific route of treating same-sex couples as second-class citizens… whether or not that aligns with their “principles” about federalism.

Filed under: Federal Advocacy, Marriage

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