John M. Becker

Desperate Tea Partiers Try to Unmarry Same-Sex Couples

Filed By John M. Becker | February 14, 2014 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, federal recognition, gay marriage, marriage equality, Mike Lee, relationship recognition, same-sex marriage, Tea Party, teabaggers, Ted Cruz, Windsor v. United States

Yesterday Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, both Tea Party Republicans, introduced S. 2024, a bill they're calling the "State Marriage Defense Act," which would make federal marriage recognition contingent upon state marriage recognition, essentially separating any married same-sex couples currently living in non-equality states.

In its implementation of the Windsor decision, the Obama administration decided to apply a "place of celebration" standard to the recognition of same-sex marriages. As a result, the federal government recognizes all valid, legal same-sex marriages (for things like taxes, Social Security, military benefits, immigration purposes, etc.) regardless of whether or not the couple currently lives in a marriage equality state.

But Cruz and Lee's bill would overrule this decision and force the federal government to adopt a "place of residency" rule, meaning that if your state doesn't want to recognize your marriage, the federal government would be forced to treat you and your same-sex spouse as legal strangers as well. So if, for example, Jessica and Jane married in Minnesota but later had to move to Wisconsin for work, under Cruz and Lee's proposal they would lose hundreds and hundreds of federal marriage rights as soon as they crossed that state line.

A companion bill was introduced in the House last month by another Tea Party Republican, Rep. Randy Weber of Texas. Shortly after introducing the bill, Weber confessed that he hadn't actually read the very Windsor decision his bill seeks to limit.

Neither bill has a chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, much less escaping President Obama's veto pen, but we're fools if we let this lull us into a false sense of security. All it would take is a Republican capturing the White House to change the game completely.

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