June 26, 2013

Lankford Disappointed by Supreme Court’s Mixed Message on Marriage

Washington, DC — House Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines federally recognized marriage as between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision, which cited the Equal Protection clause in the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court granted review of the Defense of Marriage Act case, United States v. Windsor, to determine whether or not the federal government can define marriage as it has always been understood in the United States. The Defense of Marriage Act has been the law of the land since President Clinton signed DOMA into law on September 21, 1996 after overwhelmingly passing both houses of Congress. The provision of law in question under this case was Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which provides the federal definition.

Section 3 of DOMA states, “In determining the meaning of any act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

“We are and always have been a nation of families. In America two adults are free to live any lifestyle they choose, but marriage has always been a man and a woman committed for life to each other,” said Lankford.

“Federal law specifically defined marriage in order to clarify how individuals receive federal benefits. Every person is equal under the law and should be treated with respect, but not every relationship is a marriage. This ruling does not settle the issue for Americans, but it does create a new dilemma for those with deeply held religious beliefs and those who believe that it is best for children to have both a mother and a father.

“The issue of marriage was settled in Oklahoma in 2004 in State Question 711 with 75.59% of people supporting the definition as one man and one woman and again in our State House last session with a vote of 84-0. The 1996 DOMA law was designed to protect states that defined marriage between a man and woman. But in a feigned appeal to state’s rights, the Supreme Court today mandated that for all federal purposes, the citizens and State of Oklahoma must surrender their rights to any new definition of marriage.

“In the days ahead, this mixed message about marriage will add unknowable complications to American families and further strain the relationship between the federal government and the people. I will continue to pray for our nation as we process this change in our deeply rooted value of marriage,” concluded Lankford.