Prompted by Utah Gay Marriage Case, Weber Introduces Bill to Protect State Sovereignty

By Penny Starr | January 10, 2014 | 11:51 PM EST

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) (AP Photo)

( – Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced a bill Thursday in an attempt to mitigate the damage done to state sovereignty by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA last year.

The State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 would require federal agencies to check an individual's legal residence when determining marital status and the application of federal law.

The bill’s introduction came one day ahead of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the federal government would recognize same-sex couples in Utah -- even though the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on same-sex marriage in that state pending appeals.

More than 1,000 same-sex couples married during the time the law was in place, before the Supreme Court stayed a federal District Court judge's ruling that struck down the ban on gay marriage in Utah last month.

Utah tried but failed to petition two lower courts to put a stop to same-sex weddings that took place after Judge Robert Shelby's ruling to overturn the voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in the case while the state appeals it, the New York Times reported.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the ban would be legally enforced while litigation moved forward, which could take years, and during that time, the state would not recognize or confer new marital benefits to gay couples who had married, according to the New York Times.

The DOJ's decision means "same-sex couples in Utah who married will be able to file joint federal income tax returns and will be eligible for other spousal benefits, like health insurance for the families of federal employees and the ability to sponsor a noncitizen spouse for a family visa," the Times reported.

“I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Holder said in the video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

Weber said his bill will “restore the 10th amendment” and its protection for states to define and regulate marriage.

“The 10th Amendment was established to protect state sovereignty and individual rights from being seized by the federal government,” Weber said in a statement. “For too long, however, the federal government has slowly been eroding state’s rights by promulgating rules and regulations through federal agencies.

“I drafted the ‘State Marriage Defense Act of 2014’ to help restore the 10th Amendment, affirm the authority of states to define and regulate marriage, as well as, provide clarity to federal agencies seeking to determine who qualifies as a spouse for the purpose of federal law,” Weber said.

“By requiring that the Federal Government defer to the laws of a person’s state of legal residence in determining marital status, we can protect states’ constitutionally established powers from the arbitrary overreach of unelected bureaucrats,” Weber said.

The bill has 28 co-sponsors and is supported by the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and Heritage Action, according to a press release issued by Weber’s office.