FIRST ON FOX: Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, introduced an amendment to the Senate gay marriage bill regarding the risks of allowing child marriages, polygamous marriages, and incest that could arise from the legislation.
On Tuesday, Cruz introduced his amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act that the Senate is looking to pass next week.
The Texas Republican told Fox News Digital the bill opens an avenue for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to go after religious nonprofits and also could force other states to abide by a potential extreme law in one other state.
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“Not only does the so-called Respect for Marriage Act open the door for a weaponized IRS to target religious non-profits, but it will start a race to the bottom, forcing the most extreme marriage laws from any state onto every other state,” Cruz said.
“It will only take a California, New York, or Massachusetts to legalize polygamy, incest, or child marriages to force every state to recognize these relationships as well,” the senator continued.
“If this is an unintended consequence, then Democrats should have no problem with supporting my amendment,” he added.
Cruz’s amendment would prevent a state’s potential laws on polygamous marriages, marriages in which “the parties are too closely related,” or “marriages in which a party is below a certain age limit” from being forced upon other states that may have different views on the issues.
The Respect for Marriage Act would codify same-sex marriage into the law, formally bringing up legislation to back the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
While the bill has bipartisan support, it has faced some pushback among Republicans, both on religious liberty grounds and for its requirement that the federal government recognize all marriages that are legal in the state where they took place.
This means that one state with different laws regarding same-sex marriage would have to recognize a marriage from another state that may not align with the first state’s laws.
But Cruz says he’s concerned about the implications of the bill if a state were to legalize polyamory or incest.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and others, introduced an amendment protecting religious freedom that will need to get 60 yeas to clear the procedural vote and get a chance at a final Senate vote before it can be included in the bill.
The amendment from Collins and Baldwin is aimed at making sure the bill does not undermine religious liberty and states that nonprofit religious organizations “shall not be required to provide services” to a marriage it opposes.
The amendment also says nothing in the bill can threaten the tax-exempt status of religious groups.
On Nov. 16, the bill cleared the Senate’s first procedural hurdle in a 62-37 vote in favor of ending debate and moving it to a final vote.
The Respect for Marriage Act is expected to pass the Senate later this week.