Two of the highest profile conservatives on Capitol Hill jointly introduced legislation Thursday that would bar the federal government from forcing states to accept same-sex marriages granted in other states.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah say their State Marriage Defense Act will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states and the District of Columbia that recognize same-sex unions.
Sen. Cruz said the bill will "safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage."
"The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states," Cruz said. "We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington."
The legislation is in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last year that the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- a 1996 law that defined marriage as the union of a man and woman -- was unconstitutional.
The senators say states still have the constitutional right to define marriage as they wish, and accused the administration of inconsistencies and selective enforcement of laws regarding marriage rights.
"It is clear the Obama administration finds the principles of federalism inconvenient in its effort to force states to redefine the institution of marriage," Lee said.
The bill has almost no chance of survival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.