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Ted Cruz Reintroduces Anti-Gay Bill That Would 'Defend' States' Right To Regulate Marriage

Cruz

Two Texas Republicans reintroduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states that ban them.  

Sen. Ted Cruz (above), who introduced the State Marriage Defense Act along with Rep. Randy Weber (right), said in a press release:

“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. 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.”

Weber added

Weber“The 10th Amendment was established to protect state sovereignty and individual rights from being seized by the Federal Government. States are currently struggling against activist court judges overstepping their constitutional authority by legislating from the bench, and an Obama Administration attempting to counter marriage laws voted on by the American people.”

“Multiple court cases defending state marriage laws are still awaiting Supreme Court review. While my hope is that the Supreme Court will uphold the right of voters to affirm the truth that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, it is imperative that Congress prevent federal agencies from undermining intact marriage laws in states like Texas.”

The Human Rights Campaign called the bill "shameful": 

"Ted Cruz and Randy Weber are proposing legislation that would do real harm to legally married same-sex couples in states across this country," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. "But what really stands out is the fact that they would use this reckless and irresponsible legislation to take important federal benefits away from their own Texas constituents. This just solidified their standing as two of the most extreme opponents of equality in America."

This legislation would roll back the federal government’s robust implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and extended recognition to the lawful marriages of same-sex couples for most federal spousal benefits.  Agencies across the federal government have taken the fairest and most practicable approach by recognizing those couples for most federal purposes, even if they currently live in a state that does not itself respect their marriages.

The bill would callously strip federal rights and benefits from married same-sex couples – like federal employee health benefits, military spouse benefits, immigration rights, and many others – simply because of the state in which they currently live.  In the name of protecting “states’ rights,” the bill would take spousal benefits away from the wife of a soldier serving in Afghanistan if she and their children were stationed in a state without marriage equality.  In order to “defend marriage,” his legislation would force a grieving widower to pay an unfair tax on his husband’s estate, simply because the couple had retired nearer to grandchildren in their golden years.  This legislation would make our nation’s already-unfair patchwork of laws even more burdensome for same-sex couples, and undermine the promise of equal treatment embodied in the historic Windsor decision.

The bill, which went nowhere last year, has 11 co-sponsors in the Senate and 23 co-sponsors in the House. 

Cruz's press release notes that he also plans to introduce a federal marriage amendment later this year. 


Bill to Fully Repeal DOMA Finds Third Republican Supporter

Three House Republicans have now signed on to the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill introduced again last month that would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, HuffPost reports:

DoldRep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) on Monday became the third Republican to sign on to the bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act. Freedom to Marry, a campaign focused on ending federal marriage discrimination, announced the news.

"A majority of Republicans under 50 and a supermajority of Republicans under 30 support the freedom to marry -- alongside a majority of Independents and a supermajority of the American people," said Evan Wolfson, the group's president. "Congressman Dold is doing the right thing for his party, as well as for families and the American people."

A portion of DOMA has already been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Edie Windsor ruling last year.

The bill has 126 co-sponsors. Other Republicans who have signed on are Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY).


Lesbian Widow Sues FedEx For Refusing To Pay Survivor Benefits: READ

 

Schuett

The widow of a FedEx employee is suing the company for refusing to provide her with federally required pension benefits, reports NCLR.

Lesly Frances TABOADA-HALLThe company’s decision to deny Stacey Schuett (pictured above left) benefits is solely because both spouses are women.

Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall (pictured right and above with their two children) were together for 30 years before they married in 2013. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Taboada-Hall and Schuett married from a hospital bed in their California home in front of their two children and close family members and friends.

At the time of Taboada-Hall’s death, she had been a FedEx employee for more than 26 years.

FedEx has refused to provide the benefits because its pension plan incorporates the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), even though that law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2013.

Representing Schuett, attorney Nina Wasow said:

“Federal pension law protects same-sex spouses just as it does opposite-sex spouses. Employees who have same-sex spouses deserve the same certainty as others that their hard-earned retirement benefits will be there to protect their families.”

Also representing Schuett, NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter added:

“FedEx cannot hide behind DOMA to justify its discrimination against Ms. Schuett and her family. The Supreme Court’s decision striking down DOMA made clear that employers must recognize the spouses of their gay and lesbian employees.”

Read details of Schuett's complaint, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Widow Sues FedEx For Refusing To Pay Survivor Benefits: READ" »


Happy Ending for Binational Gay Couple Kept Apart By DOMA: WATCH

Jamie and Tim

Just when you needed a break from the relentless bad news, we've received word of a happy outcome for binational couple Tim and Jamie who back in 2013 were prevented from being together in the United States because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

Tim and Scottish native Jamie have been together since August 2006 and married in Canada in June 2012. However, Jamie was detained in SeaTac Airport, Seattle in June 2009 due to visa problems and the couple had been prevented from being together ever since.

Last week Jamie had an interview at the US Embassy in London, England and was approved for a green card.

Together for eight years and five months, the couple hopes that Jamie will be in the US before Valentine’s Day “and soon we will finally be able to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Watch a heartbreaking video about the couple’s struggle and an update following Jamie’s green card application, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Happy Ending for Binational Gay Couple Kept Apart By DOMA: WATCH" »


DOMA-Repealing 'Respect for Marriage Act' Reintroduced in Congress

Feinstein_Nadler

Yesterday Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would fully repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ensure all federal government agencies recognize legal same-sex marriages.

Writes HRC:

“From social security benefits to veterans benefits, DOMA continues to harm families across the country,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “Every legally married couple - no matter where they live - should have access to the full federal benefits and protections they deserve. It’s far past time for DOMA to be completely repealed once and for all. We applaud Senator Feinstein and Representatives Nadler and Ros-Lehtinen for their tireless commitment to fully repealing this discriminatory and antiquated statute.”

Prior to the June 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Windsor v. United States, DOMA singled out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment. This law discriminates in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid legal marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all legally married same-sex couples out of all federal statutes, regulations and rulings applicable to all other married people.

The Supreme Court held Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor v. United States.  However, steps must still be taken to fully repeal this discriminatory law.  First, Section 2 of DOMA was not part of the Windsor case and remains unaddressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Second, there is no uniform standard across the federal government for determining when a couple’s marriage is valid for federal purposes.  

The reintroduction of the bill includes three new Senate sponsors: Harry Reid (D-NV), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

Head here for the full, bipartisan list of cosponsors to the House bill. 


Lincoln, Nebraska Mayor Extends City Benefits to Gay Married Couples

Same-sex spouses of city employees are set to receive medical, dental, life and vision insurance and the same retirement benefits that straight couples receive, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.

BeutlerMayor Chris Beutler approved the changes in light of new Blue Cross and Blue Shield policies prompted by the SCOTUS Windsor ruling.

The Journal Star:

Beutler’s decision to accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s definition of marriage, which includes same-sex marriages, opens the door to city benefits being extended to same-sex spouses of city employees. The city’s insurance carrier changed its definition of marriage following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The high court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor invalidated the portion of the federal act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibited federal benefits from being denied to legally married same-sex couples.

“The city accepted the new definition because it doesn't make sense to deny legally married same-sex couples the same insurance benefits that we grant to other legally married couples,” said Rick Hoppe, Beutler's chief of staff.

The change became effective on November 1. Nebraska has its own Defense of Marriage Act which county officials cited last month in refusing to extend pension benefits to same-sex spouses of employees, but the county must adhere to some new federal rules following the SCOTUS ruling. The ACLU filed suit in November challenging Nebraska's ban on gay marriage.


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