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senate Bill S. 435

Should "Marriage" be Defined at the State Level — Without Federal Interference?

Argument in favor

States are the best level of government at which to define marriage — the federal government should not be able to force a definition of marriage on all 50 states. This bill gives the choice back to states and the people who live in them.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/28/2015
Neither should have the ability to simply impose a governmental definition of a practice and institution which has been defined historically in a variety of contexts, most notably by religion. Let each person live as they choose, without forcing others to accept or adopt an opposing view.
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05/29/2015
Marriage is already defined. Why do we need another definition? If you are homosexual and want to join with 1 significant other for the rest of your life please use a different term. Perhaps civil union would be best. I do not need any government redefining what is already well known. Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman.
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Zenra123's Opinion
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05/29/2015
The Constitution does not give the Federal Government this power. The Tenth Amendment gives this power to the States!
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Argument opposed

There needs to be a federal definition of marriage because states can’t be trusted to enact non-discriminatory marriage laws. This bill is a less than subtle way to step on same-sex couples' rights to have their marriage recognized anywhere in the country.

Evercraft's Opinion
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05/29/2015
Civil rights aren't ever state issues. What an idiotic bill.
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BananaNeil's Opinion
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05/28/2015
This is more Ted Cruz BIGOTRY. This bill would taking away the federal benefits from same-sex couples who reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Under no circumstances can we allow congress to pass it.
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shashankkalanithi's Opinion
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05/28/2015
No for the same reason that states could not be trusted to enact fair and just civil rights laws. Back in the 60’s the federal government had to make a federal level Civil rights law because states could not be trusted to enact the laws themselves. Letting states decide civil issues like this is simply us making the same mistakes our predecessors did
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 10th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 435?

This bill would give states and territories the authority to have their own definition of marriage that is independent of federal laws.

The federal government would have to defer to state/territory marriage law when applying the definition of marriage for all rulings, regulations, or interpretations that would be put forward by federal agencies. This would include the provision of benefits under federal law.

Impact

Couples who want to get married, people who want their states’ definition of marriage to be different than what it is, or want a federal definition of marriage, or would suffer a change in legal status because of this law, state legislatures, federal agencies, federal benefits.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 435

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: An article run by CNN found that this legislation would negate the marriages of same-sex couples who were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage, but reside in a state where those marriages are illegal. They would also, under this bill become ineligible for the federal benefits that they otherwise enjoy. 

Under current law, federal agencies use a “state of celebration” rule rather than a “state of residence” rule when interpreting U.S. v. Windsor  to give couples their federal benefits — meaning that married same-sex couples have their marriages recognized wherever they live so long as they were married in a state that permits same-sex marriage.

A nearly identical version of the State Marriage Defense Act was introduced in February 2014, but it failed to receive a vote in the Senate before the conclusion of the 113th Congress.


Of Note: This legislation has its roots in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in the case U.S. v. Windsor — the official end to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that had previously allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states.

A 5-4 majority in the Court ruled that the federal government was prevented from treating state-sanctioned heterosexual marriages as different from state-sanctioned same-sex marriages because the differentiation “demean[ed] the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects.” The majority opinion further stated that:

“the federal statute [DOMA] is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

There are competing views of this majority’s opinion: one which believes it to be an affirmation of federalism and that “the State used its historic and essential authority to define the marital relation”, and another that believes DOMA “violate[d] basic due process and equal protection principles.”


Media:


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user gdominici)

AKA

State Marriage Defense Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to amend chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, with regard to the definition of "marriage" and "spouse" for Federal purposes and to ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.

    Neither should have the ability to simply impose a governmental definition of a practice and institution which has been defined historically in a variety of contexts, most notably by religion. Let each person live as they choose, without forcing others to accept or adopt an opposing view.
    Like (34)
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    Civil rights aren't ever state issues. What an idiotic bill.
    Like (95)
    Follow
    Share
    This is more Ted Cruz BIGOTRY. This bill would taking away the federal benefits from same-sex couples who reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Under no circumstances can we allow congress to pass it.
    Like (28)
    Follow
    Share
    No for the same reason that states could not be trusted to enact fair and just civil rights laws. Back in the 60’s the federal government had to make a federal level Civil rights law because states could not be trusted to enact the laws themselves. Letting states decide civil issues like this is simply us making the same mistakes our predecessors did
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Marriage is already defined. Why do we need another definition? If you are homosexual and want to join with 1 significant other for the rest of your life please use a different term. Perhaps civil union would be best. I do not need any government redefining what is already well known. Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman.
    Like (15)
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    Share
    The Constitution does not give the Federal Government this power. The Tenth Amendment gives this power to the States!
    Like (12)
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    Speaking as both a Christian and a member of the LGBTQ community, our laws clearly separate church and state. Religious reasoning should not be utilized in state matters. Furthermore, the constitution guarantees "equal protection" and "due process," two amendments that haven't been afforded to the LGBT community.
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    Many states are run by the religious right. They can not be trusted to keep their religion out of the government of the state.
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    Equal protection and equal application of law under the 14th Amendment is a federal constitutional privilege and must be taken out of the states' hands.
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    "The states can't be trusted"?!?! Have you read our Constitution? It's the Feds that can't be trusted.
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    Civil Rights are not a state issue. Some states are so conservative, many Americans will CONTINUE to face discrimination. The federal government needs to step in to help protect ALL Americans.
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    Please separate church and state. We really should encourage lawmakers to refrain from applying their religious beliefs on to their profession. Just imagine if any other line of work (firefighter, EMT, doctor, etc.) behaves like our lawmakers, the world would be a horrible place.
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    Marriage is for a man and a woman not 2 males or 2 females
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    States rights is the same BS excuse they used to justify slavery. American citizens deserve equal rights and equal protections in all aspect of their lives.
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    Keeping all authority not delegated to the Federal government by the constitution in the hands of the states is vital the Federal government is already far too powerful. Allow each state to define marriage as they see fit, as for me I believe marriage is between one man and one woman as God defined it when he created Adam and Eve
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    In the words of the majority opinion of the SCOTUS, and I quote, "The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex." The Justice went on to say, "The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution — even as confined to opposite-sex relations — has evolved over time." Marriage has evolved. The religious argument of one man and one woman is now completely and forever invalid. The people and the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land have spoken. The court that promises "Equal Justice Under Law" has finally delivered. This is not a state's issue simply due to the fact that discrimination is not a state's issue. Why should discrimination towards same-sex couples be illegal in Massachusetts but legal in Kentucky? This is a state's issue and the Supreme Court has ruled on it, thus ending the debate and making this question redundant in the first place.
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    If it has to be one or the other it should be at the state level I suppose, but it should be a non-issue anyway. No government had the right to tell a citizen whom they are allowed to marry.
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    To avoid changing definitions based on party takeover in the White House I still believe states should have the power to define marriage.
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    Marriage does not need to be defined. In the secular sense, it is a contract to be enforced by the courts. In the religious sense (where the term applies), it has nothing to do with laws or government as long as no one is endangered. So long as we insist on handling marriage in this way, it is better that the states decide.
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    The idea of marriage is generally accepted in first world countries as a unity of two people. Quite frankly those two people should not have to worry about what their state thinks of their union as long as it is a relationship between two consenting adults. The last thing a happy couple should be concerned with is their position in the country, and if the federal government and Supreme Court find it constitutional, then the states should adhere to that decision and openly accept their new demographic of people with love and understanding, not unease and hate. The state governments should be more focused on how to improve the lives of their citizens, not how to restrict their love.
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