“When Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from striking down state marriage laws.” — Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Ted Cruz is once again standing for conservative values and principles in the face of overwhelming cultural opposition. This time he is taking a hard stand for traditional marriage by announcing that he will be introducing a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage at the state level.
Here is his full statement – (with my commentary afterward.)
“The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible,” said Sen. Cruz. “By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.
“This is judicial activism at its worst. The Constitution entrusts state legislatures, elected by the People, to define marriage consistent with the values and mores of their citizens. Unelected judges should not be imposing their policy preferences to subvert the considered judgments of democratically elected legislatures.
“The Supreme Court is, de facto, applying an extremely broad interpretation to the 14th Amendment without saying a word – an action that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Because of the Court’s decision today, 11 States will likely now be forced to legalize same-sex marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. And this action paves the way for laws prohibiting same-sex marriage to be overturned in any state.
“It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment.
“Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.
“Marriage is a question for the States. That is why I have introduced legislation, S. 2024, to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage. And that is why, when Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.
“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
We have heard many calls to defend a traditional definition of marriage over the years, so some of us might simply play this off as “Ted Cruz theatre.” That would be a mistake. The difference between what Cruz is offering and what has been said in the past is simple federalism. Senator Cruz is demanding that the courts and the federal government do not have the Constitutional ability to demand that states, who have passed constitutional amendments or laws to prevent gay marriage, ignore said legislation. So, in essence, what he is saying is NOT that gay marriage should be illegal everywhere… but that the states that choose to make it illegal should be allowed to do so. Under Cruz’s proposed amendment gay marriage could still be legal in states that choose to make it so.
In his argument, Cruz also decries the use of the 14th Amendment as the excuse for forcing gay marriage upon conservative states, saying –
“It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today… Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation.”
Here is what the “Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th Amendment says (you judge the validity of either argument):
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The legislature was of course speaking specifically about African-Americans having the same rights as white citizens. So, should the Court be allowed to use this argument for equality or privileges to force gay marriage upon the states? That’s the question, isn’t it?
For me, the argument always leads back to the idea that the government should have no part in the marriage covenant. I’ve made the argument several times before in these pages (see here, here and here) but feel compelled to point out once more that if the legislature would simply divorce the government from the marriage industry… this issue would be rendered moot. States wouldn’t be forced to accept gay marriage, Christians could ignore the implications of state endorsed homosexual unions, and, most importantly, the conservative Evangelical Church would never have to worry about being forced to take part in the farce that is gay marriage.
While I commend Senator Cruz for his efforts, I would love to see conservatives like him stand up in the legislature and push for an end to government involvement in our most personal relationship.