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While some members of the Republican Party may be evolving on the issue of marriage equality, Sen. Ted Cruz made clear Monday that he is not one of them.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in five states — Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin — thus allowing lower court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in those states to stand, Cruz lashed out at the nine Supreme Court justices for engaging in judicial activism at its worst.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.”
The Supreme Court provides no explanation for why they decline to hear a case — a fact that appeared to enrage Cruz, who argued before the Supreme Court nine times as solicitor general of Texas, more times than any other member of Congress.
“The Supreme Court is, de facto, applying an extremely broad interpretation to the 14th Amendment without saying a word – an action that is likely to have far-reaching consequences,” Cruz said, noting that Monday’s decision will also impact states under the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals, meaning same-sex marriage will likely soon be legalized in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.
According to Cruz, no constitutional provision authorizes judges to “redefine marriage for the Nation.” Instead, it is up to the elected representatives of the people to draft such laws. As such, when Congress returns to session, Cruz has vowed to introduce a constitutional amendment to “prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.”
Cruz was one of the few Republicans on Capitol Hill to respond to Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court. (A number of Democrats issued statements praising the decision, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said, “We cannot rest until all LGBT Americans in every community, in every state can enjoy the benefits of full citizenship.”) But Cruz, in characteristic style, barked the loudest, appealing to social conservatives who feel increasingly marginalized, not only in American society but also within their own party.
In a series of statements released by leaders of social conservative organizations, it became clear Monday that many — while not saying so directly — have given up on the courts to advance their cause.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, urged Congress to move forward with the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation introduced by Cruz earlier this year that would allow states to define marriage for federal purposes. The bill currently has 10 cosponsors in the Senate and 68 in the House of Representatives.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, went further, echoing back to the 2004 presidential election with a call for the U.S. Constitution to be amended to ban same-sex marriage nationwide.
“[G]iven what the Supreme Court has allowed to happen, the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage,” Brown said in a statement. “It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefor call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.”
Brown, who, along with Perkins, is actively working against the elections of three pro-LGBT Republican candidates for Congress this November, called on voters to hold elected officials accountable and demand to know if they “accept the illegitimate act of attempting to redefine marriage or whether they will stand with the American people to resist.
“In particular, we urge Republicans to hold their party leaders to account, and to demand that they remain true to their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman which was a pillar of the party’s founding in 1856, and remains essential to society’s well-being today,” Brown continued.
According to Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court is a “miscarriage of justice that lays the predicate for a Roe v. Wade decision on marriage that will impose same-sex marriage on the entire country by judicial fiat.” There will be no avoiding the issue of same-sex marriage in the 2014 and 2016 elections, Reed promised, and if the Supreme Court is planning “a Roe v. Wade on marriage, it will sow the wind and reap a political whirlwind.”
All such cries are on the fringe of American politics, as illustrated by the near universal silence of most members of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill Monday. But the voices of those conservatives leaders still carry, and for Cruz — a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 — they present an opportunity.
During last month’s Values Voter Summit, which is organized by groups like the Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage, Cruz won the conference’s presidential straw poll for the second year in a row. In his speech to the most conservative of GOP voters, Cruz said the key to a Republican victory is not to back down in the face of public opinion, but to “defend the values that are American values.”
“Now there are people in Washington who say Republicans, to win, have to abandon values,” Cruz said. “Look, our values are who we are. Our values are why we’re here. And our values are fundamentally American. This country remains a center-right country. This country remains a country built on Judeo-Christian values. This country remains a country that values and cherishes our constitutional liberties.”
With a majority of states — 30, plus D.C. — soon to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry and 60 percent of the Americans soon to be residing in a marriage equality state, Cruz is digging in.
“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society,” Cruz said Monday. “We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
If social conservatives hadn’t yet found their candidate for 2016, they have now.
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