WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and U.S. Representative Randy Weber, Sr. (R-TX) reintroduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act which would require the federal government to recognize only marriages that are valid under the laws of the state in which a couple are domiciled. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, strongly condemned the legislation as a reckless and irresponsible attack on same-sex couples and their families.
"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. This just solidified their standing as two of the most extreme opponents of equality in America."
This legislation would roll back the federal government’s robust implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, 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 taken the fairest and most practicable approach by recognizing those couples for most federal purposes, even if they currently live in a state that does not itself respect their marriages.
The bill would callously strip federal rights and benefits from married same-sex couples – like federal employee health benefits, military spouse benefits, immigration rights, and many others – simply because of the state in which they currently live. In the name of protecting “states’ rights,” the bill would take spousal benefits away from the wife of a soldier serving in Afghanistan if she and their children were stationed in a state without marriage equality. In order to “defend marriage,” his legislation would force a grieving widower to pay an unfair tax on his husband’s estate, simply because the couple had retired nearer to grandchildren in their golden years. This legislation would make our nation’s already-unfair patchwork of laws even more burdensome for same-sex couples, and undermine the promise of equal treatment embodied in the historic Windsor decision.
Last time it was introduced in 2014, the State Marriage Defense Act was supported by long-time opponents of LGBT equality, including the Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and Heritage Action.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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