RUSE: Congress should protect states’ right to define marriage

Supreme Court does not have the final say on same-sex unions

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United States v. Windsor removed the uniform federal definition of the word “marriage,” which appears in more than 1,000 federal laws and regulations, leaving federal agents with a choice: to respect state authority in this area and defer to a state’s marriage law in applying federal law to its legal residents, or to ignore state law and put a heavy federal “thumb” on the scale in favor of same-sex marriage — even in the majority of states that have laws to the contrary.

In Windsor, the court was persuaded by the argument of a resident of New York that the federal government should not apply federal law in a way that was inconsistent with the marriage law of New York. Congress should protect the “historic and essential authority” of Texas and the 32 other states that have not adopted same-sex marriage by requiring federal agencies to respect their marriage laws, too.

As the Supreme Court stated in Windsor, “the Federal Government, through our history, has deferred to state-law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations.” So should it here. Congress should pass the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse is a senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council.

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