Opinion

January 13, 2014 (FRC) – Justice Secretary Eric Holder was already held in contempt of Congress — but a Supreme Court reprimand may not be far behind. Regardless of where the justices fall on the question of same-sex “marriage,” they probably had to pick their jaws up off the floor after the country's chief law enforcer put the Court's latest marriage decisions through the paper shredder and promised to validate Utah's same-sex “weddings” after the Court's stay on counterfeit marriages. In plain rebellion to the justices' June ruling, Holder announced that DOJ would take matters into its own hands and offer more than 1,000 federal benefits to couples, who, under state law, aren't even legally married!

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Back in December, Judge Robert Shelby took a wild leap, declaring Utah's marriage amendment unconstitutional — a leap the Supreme Court put on hold until the appeals court could weigh in. In a video statement Friday, Holder took the administration's lawlessness to shocking heights, vowing that he would do what Utah and the Supreme Court would not: “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.” The administration's announcement came just two days after Utah officials put these benefits on ice, explaining that they would exhaust their legal options before trampling on the will of 66% of state voters.

Even the mainstream media seemed taken aback at Holder's overreach. “What is unusual about the attorney general's action,” wrote one reporter, “is that the government routinely waits until an issue has been fully litigated to a final resolution before it takes action rewarding one side in the litigation.” It's unclear, he went on, how the Attorney General could “find a constitutional right the Supreme Court has not yet recognized.” In truth, Holder is doing the exact opposite of what justices ordered, which is to honor “state sovereign choices about who may be married.”

This twist is more than a little ironic, especially since President Obama has always insisted that he supports states' rights on marriage. Apparently, he's “evolved” on that too. While the administration takes a torch to the 10th Amendment, Utah officials are still trying to sort out the legal mess. Their job just got a lot more complicated now that Holder has elevated himself above the Supreme Court, Congress, Governor Gary Herbert, and Utah voters. “This is another example of the Obama administration's disrespect for the rule of law,” fumed Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “States must be permitted to not recognize same-sex marriage if they so choose, without being trampled on by the federal courts and the Obama administration.”

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Congressman Joe Pitts was equally furious, citing the obvious political motivation behind the decision. The administration “should have allowed the court to rule before making this decision.” For Republicans, this is exactly the ammunition they need to push Rep. Randy Weber's (R-Texas) State Marriage Defense Act, introduced last week to protect voters from lawless oversteps like Holder's. Without it, the administration's contempt for the law and the basic democratic process is what makes states like Utah vulnerable. Under Rep. Weber's bill, the federal government could no longer barge in to states and stomp all over their marriage amendments. Instead of undermining state laws, the federal government would be bound by them.

If the President won't respect states' authority, Congress will force him to. As FRC's Leanna Baumer points out in a new op-ed on the subject, every American — regardless of their opinion on marriage — should agree that this kind of administrative chaos hurts the democratic process. And until something is done to rein in this President, let this be a warning to every state that under this administration their laws are fair game. To stop this kind of lawlessness from coming to your home state, contact your representative and ask him to sponsor Congressman Weber's bill.

Reprinted with permission from FRC

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