No, Ted Cruz Did Not Submit a Bill to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

ThinkProgress published an article with the very misleading headline, “Living In His Own Reality, Cruz Files Constitutional Amendment To Ban Same-Sex Marriage.” But that is not what the amendment he is proposing would do and their own text in the article shows that:

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in a case that could overturn state laws that restrict marriage to only between a man and a woman, public support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high. But that hasn’t stopped Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) from launching a last ditch effort to limit marriage to just heterosexual couples.

Cruz filed two bills this week, one of which would establish a constitutional amendment protecting from legal action states that define marriage as only between a man and a woman, according to Bloomberg News. The other would stop federal courts from considering the same-sex marriage issue until that amendment is in place.

But neither of those bills would ban same-sex marriage, they would allow states to control the issue (several of which have already legalized it through referendum or legislative action) and forbid the courts from intervening with state law. That’s very different from banning same-sex marriage. Still, these are terrible bills. They also have zero chance of passing. This is Cruz pandering to the Christian right to help his presidential campaign.

Probably most legislation that is introduced is done so without the sponsors caring at all whether it passes or not. In fact, they often don’t want their own bills to pass because it would diminish their political advantage if they did.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Al Dente

    This is Cruz pandering to the Christian right to help his presidential campaign.

    Exactly. Cruz knows his bills are DOA but whatever decision the Supremes make Cruz can point at the bills and tell his fellow bigots: “I tried.”

  • John Pieret

    The main effect of those bills, if by some mischance they became law, would be to drive large corporations and high-tech jobs out of southern states into more enlightened ones.

    Oh, I live in one of those more enlightened states … go, Teddy, go!

    /snark

  • Michael Heath

    OpenCongress.org is a good site to track bills, as is Congress.gov. The bill is S.J.Res.12 . It’s one of 14 bills that Sen. Cruz has sponsored on his own. Zero bills have been turned into law.

    Sen. Cruz has also co-sponsored 51 bills. Zero of those bills have been turned into law.

    This bill was read into Congress, but the Government Printing Office has not yet submitted the text of the bill to the Library of Congress.

  • whheydt

    While I agree that the chance of passage is remote, there is still some danger if the amendment makes it through Congress. It depends on how the bill specifies ratification. If it has to be ratified by popular vote in the states, then current support for SSM means that it would never get past the required 3/4 of the states (only one amendment has ever been ratified this way). However, if it goes through the state legislatures, the Republican gerrymandering would give it a MUCH better chance of ratification.

    Another factor to consider is whether or not the amendment bill, like pretty much all modern amendment proposals, has a time limit for ratification (typically 7 years). The shorter the ratification period, the less likely it is to be ratified. So far as I know, there is only one remaining proposed amendment that is still on the table with no time limit for ratification. It’s the 12th one proposed for the Bill of Rights; it’s the one that calls for one House member for every 30K people.

  • dan4

    “In fact, they often don’t want their bills to pass because it would diminish their political advantage if it did.” Huh? What possible “political advantage” could come from a politician’s inability to get their bills passed?

  • John Pieret

    whheydt:

    While I think you are surely right to say “if it goes through the state legislatures, the Republican gerrymandering would give it a MUCH better chance of ratification,” I don’t think its passage is significantly better that way. The recent debacles in Indiana and Arkansas show why. When even “bubbaville” Walmart comes out strongly against anti-SSM legislation, I think the issue is, effectively dead.

  • Anri

    dan4:

    Huh? What possible “political advantage” could come from a politician’s inability to get their bills passed?

    If the primary point of your political view is that federal government is inherently unworkable and ineffective, passing workable and effective federal legislation undermines that point. Getting a bill passed that punts an issue to the state is somewhat better – failing to pass such a bill is perfect: it lets you simultaneously pander to both the anti-gay bigots (“We tried…”) and the anti-government loons (“…but you know how the government is!”) making up your core constituency.

  • theguy

    “But neither of those bills would ban same-sex marriage, they would allow states to control the issue (several of which have already legalized it through referendum or legislative action) and forbid the courts from intervening with state law. That’s very different from banning same-sex marriage.”

    Certain states would still ban it, wouldn’t they? It would seriously delay legalization across the country.

  • magistramarla

    Cruz is probably fairly certain that his inane proposals won’t pass in the federal government, but I’m sure that he is well aware that many similar bills will pass here in Texas. Here’s a link to an opinion piece about them:

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/opinion_columnists/o_ricardo_pimentel/article/Stinky-constitutional-changes-coming-our-way-6223666.php

    From the article: “There are, by my count, 196 resolutions in the Legislature that propose constitutional amendments — 130 in the House and 66 in the Senate, many of them duplicative.”

    The state legislature has its very own version of Cruz. She’s Donna Campbell, from right here in San Antonio:

    “Among the more odious amendments proposed, there are those — one by our own GOP Sen. Donna Campbell — that would essentially allow business folks to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.

    Another by Campbell — I’m seeing a trend here — would allow the state to nullify presidential and federal policies and rules, and still another Campbell special would make it clear that no Texan can be compelled to buy health insurance.

    Abortion and guns are the topic of other constitutional amendments, though — surprise! — not by Campbell, though she does have regular bills on these topics.”

    Basically, the Texas legislature is poised to thumb their noses at everything that the federal government tries to do.

    I also think that this will eventually drive the better and more progressive businesses out of Texas.

    I just hope that we can sell our house and move to a more progressive state before that happens.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    dan4 @ # 5: What possible “political advantage” could come from a politician’s inability to get their bills passed?

    Imagine if the wingnuts did somehow succeed in outlawing gay marriage, or abortion rights, or environmental protection, or any of their other hot-button issues. Then they would (a) have no red-meat social issues with which to rile up their constituents, and (b) have to confront the consequences of having forced bad ideas onto a (mostly) unwilling electorate.

  • meisnerman

    “…neither of those bills would ban same-sex marriage, they would allow states to control the issue (several of which have already legalized it through referendum or legislative action) and forbid the courts from intervening with state law. That’s very different from banning same-sex marriage.”

    I’m not sure I fully agree with your point here. It’s true that some states have legalized marriage equality voluntarily, but many (like my home state of Utah) are now recognizing same sex marriage only because federal courts are forcing them. Would not these bills from Cruz (if somehow miraculously made law) reverse these district court rulings and re-institute state bans? It may be true that “state control” would not ban all gay marriages, but it would have the effect of re-imposing many state bans which are currently toothless, thus banning gay marriages in many jurisdictions.

    Unless I am misinterpreting this effect, the ThinkProgress headline seems fair to me.

  • hunter

    whheydt @4

    Article V of the Constitution specifies how amendments may be initiated and ratified; Congress may specify ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in the state; in no case is it up to the popular vote. An amendment would need ratification by 38 states. Also, Article V does not mention a time limit, but several amendments have required that they be ratified within seven years.

    As I recall, fourteen states (plus D.C.) have accepted same-sex marriage by legislative action, popular vote, or decisions of state courts; New Mexico’s marriage laws were gender neutral to begin with; and Nevada and Oregon (at least) elected not to challenge federal court decisions overturning their marriage bans. The net effect is that no way would an amendment get through three-fourth of the states, and considering that the last two attempts never made it through Congress, I doubt it would get that far.

  • sharonb

    Sorry , Ed. If you live in a troglodite state and his bill passed, no same sex marriage for you. TP got it right.

  • whheydt

    Re; hunter @ #12….

    Now define what a “state convention” is and how the amendment to repeal prohibition was ratified. (The *only* amendment to ratified by not going through the state legislatures.)

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com holytape

    Ted Cruz isn’t going to punch you in the face. He’s going to let the man next to him punch you in the face and then prevent the police from interfering with the face punching. You see two completely different things.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Sorry Ed. I like a good pedantic rant on occasion but I think that you’re wrong here. While it’s technically true that these proposed amendments don’t explicitly ban SSM, it’s very clear that this is an attempt at doing so through the back door. The TP headline is only mildly hyperbolic. Would you have preferred “Ted Cruz Introduces Amendments to Sneakily Prevent Same Sex Marriage”? Kindy clumsy.

  • eric

    it’s very clear that this is an attempt at doing so through the back door.

    I disagree. The fact that he’s using a constitutional amendment makes it very clear that Cruz is not seriously attempting to make anything illegal, through the front door or the back door or any other door. The second bill is equally ridiculous (though not a constitutional amendment), because pretty much any “…and the court can’t review the law” law is not going to pass a Presidential veto. Together, these bills are nothing more than pander-fare.

    If you want to know when they are getting serious about legislating against SSM, here’s the clue: they will start attaching anti-SSM language to important bi-partisan appropriations bills at the last minute.