GOP looks to limit federal recognition of same-sex marriages

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Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) and 27 other Republicans have proposed legislation that would prevent the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for couples who live in states that do not permit these unions.

Weber's State Marriage Defense Act, H.R. 3829, is a reaction to last year's Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That law required the federal government to only recognize "marriage" between heterosexual couples.

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That ruling has opened the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriages, but Weber said those decisions should be left to the states, which regulate the institution of marriage.

"I drafted the 'State Marriage Defense Act of 2014' to help restore the 10th Amendment, affirm the authority of states to define and regulate marriage, [and] provide clarity to federal agencies seeking to determine who qualifies as a spouse for the purpose of federal law," he said Thursday. "By requiring that the Federal Government defer to the laws of a person's state of legal residence in determining marital status, we can protect states' constitutionally established powers from the arbitrary overreach of unelected bureaucrats."

The bill is supported by the Family Research Council and other groups that have argued that the federal government is currently recognizing same-sex marriages that take place in states where those marriages are legal, regardless of whether the married couple resides in a state that allows same-sex unions.

"The federal government has begun granting certain federal marriage benefits to same sex couples, even when the couple resides in a state that does not recognize their marriage," the Council said Thursday. "This bill directs the federal government to determine marital status by looking to the law of a person's state of residence."

The legislation is also supported by the National Organization for Marriage, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and Heritage Action.