Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas hopes to put states in charge of gay marriage
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas hopes to put states in charge of gay marriage
(CNN) —  

Sen. Ted Cruz is again putting down a marker in defense of traditional marriage, introducing a bill aimed at protecting states’ rights in the same-sex marriage debate.

On Tuesday, Cruz re-introduced the State Marriage Defense Act, which would prevent the federal government from asserting its own definition of marriage on the states.

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“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,” Cruz said in a statement announcing the bill.

“I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens,” he said.

Eleven senators — John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Steve Daines of Montana, James Inhofe and James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana — have cosponsored the bill. Texas Rep. Randy Weber introduced a partner bill in the House, which has 22 cosponsors.

It would effectively nullify the marriages of same-sex couples who married in one state and moved to another state where such unions were illegal. Currently, the federal government recognizes, and provides many benefits for, same-sex couples married in a state where gay marriage is legal, no matter where they move.

The bill comes as the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case this year that will decide whether gay marriage is constitutionally protected. The release announcing the bill also said Cruz will introduce a constitutional amendment protecting the rights of state legislatures to define marriage.

That decision has reignited the gay marriage debate within the Republican Party. While conservatives like Cruz, who’s considered a likely 2016 presidential contender, insist the GOP needs to re-assert its support for traditional marriage, establishment Republicans have argued the party should move away from its focus on divisive social issues in order to broaden its appeal.