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Shelby & Sessions co-sponsor bill to leave gay marriage to the states

Sens. Jeff Sessions & Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sens. Jeff Sessions & Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

WASHINGTON — Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have signed on to a bill that would allow each state to set its own marriage policy.

The “State Marriage Defense Act” is sponsored by conservative firebrand Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), with eleven other Republican senators, including Sessions and Shelby, signing on as co-sponsors.

“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,” Cruz said in a press release Tuesday.

This is the second time Sen. Cruz has sponsored the bill, though it never made it to the floor for a vote under Democratic leadership. Sen. Sessions was one of 10 cosponsors for the 2014 iteration, but Shelby and Sessions both signed on to the 2006 attempt to amend the US Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Recent developments in Alabama and across the country as the US Supreme Court deliberates the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans have created new pressure on congressional conservatives to act in defense of traditional marriage on behalf of the states.

According to his press release, Sen. Cruz will introduce a proposal for a constitutional amendment later this year that would “further protect marriage and to prevent judicial activism. The amendment will make explicit that marriage is a policy question for the democratically-elected legislatures in each of the 50 states.”

Any proposed constitutional amendment must be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate, then ratified by three-fourths of the states. The most recent amendment to the Constitution was ratified on May 7th, 1991, though several amendments are proposed by Congress every year.