SALT LAKE CITY — A new bill from Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee would reinforce state sovereignty when it comes to defining the word “marriage.” He is co-sponsoring the bill with fellow Tea Party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Lee says the State Marriage Defense Act does not pit states’ rights against civil rights, or the 10th Amendment versus the 14th Amendment.
“I don’t read the Constitution as telling states that they may not define marriage as an institution between a man and a woman,” he said.
Lee accuses the Obama administration of wrongly imposing its will regarding same-sex marriage on the entire country as it relies on the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act last summer. Lee argues that the ruling, especially on Section 3, forces the federal government to “respect the primacy of the states in defining marriage.”
“It is clear the Obama administration finds the principles of federalism inconvenient in its effort to force states to redefine the institution of marriage,” he said.
Lee asserts that his measure will allow states to call and recognize marriage however it wants, even if Utah changes its mind.
The idea is to allow each state to define marriage as it deems fit. It would operate one way or the other in either scenario, regardless of how Utah chooses to define marriage.
–Sen. Mike Lee
“The idea is to allow each state to define marriage as it deems fit. It would operate one way or the other in either scenario, regardless of how Utah chooses to define marriage,” he said.
Right now, Amendment 3 of the Utah Constitution bans gay marriage or Utah’s recognition of homosexual unions conducted in other states. But Lee says SB2024 has nothing to do with rights and benefits of couples, no matter their sexual orientation.
“I suppose that the federal government could choose to just adopt a different system for recognizing relationships altogether, and expand that to include something beyond marriage," he said.
But Lee says no one has done that yet.