Ted Cruz Introduces Bills to Stop Gay Marriage

The Texas senator wants to establish a constitutional amendment that protects states that define marriage as being between a man and a woman from legal action.
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, Senator Ted Cruz has filed two bills to protect states that bar gay couples from marrying.

Cruz's legislation would establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, according to bill language obtained by Bloomberg News.

A second bill would bar federal courts from further weighing in on the marriage issue until such an amendment is adopted.

Cruz, a Texas Republican running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, built his career in the Senate around fighting policies including Obamacare, government spending and immigration policies. That won him a strong following among the party's Tea Party base. Now he is trying to broaden his appeal to evangelical voters in early voting states, namely Iowa, by sending a message to the court.

Much like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in 2008, Cruz is attempting to become the early favorite of evangelical voters. With that goal in mind, he launched his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at Liberty University, a Christian school founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell.

While Cruz's legislation would face solid opposition in the Senate, it is an attempt to force his competitors to keep the issue alive even if the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.

In his first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate earlier this month, Cruz stayed laser focused on social issues, including a potential court ruling to legalize gay marriage nationwide that he said would be "fundamentally illegitimate.''

The court will hear arguments on same-sex marriage on Tuesday, and consider whether it is constitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage as well as whether states may refuse to recognize such marriages lawfully performed elsewhere.

While polls show majorities of voters in states like New York support legalizing same-sex marriage, many conservative Republican primary voters whom Cruz is courting oppose such laws. And Cruz is vying for the nomination with other Republican hopefuls with a strong connection with evangelical leaders, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

"I don't think there's any candidate who's solidified religious conservatives yet,'' said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "I've met with Senator Cruz. He's remained informed on religious liberty issues. But he's going to have to spend time demonstrating that he can actually accomplish these things.''

Last year, Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee filed similar legislation to protect more than 30 states that currently define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but those bills died when the session in a Democratic-controlled congress ended.