Delay tactics slow Texas House on anti-gay marriage bill as key deadline looms

Texas state capitol in Austin.

Texas state capitol in Austin.

Texas state capitol in Austin.

Texas state capitol in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — A key conservative push to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if same-sex marriage is legalized hangs in the balance as work in the Texas House has slowed to a crawl – even as the chamber’s last chance to pass the bill looms.

Democrats are outnumbered nearly 2-to-1 in the lower chamber but have been stalling all week. They ask every imaginable question on the floor to draw out debate on as many bills as possible, then use parliamentary tactics to further slow things down.

Known as “chubbing,” the effort comes because midnight Thursday is the deadline for House bills to get their first vote by the full chamber. Measures that don’t make it are considered dead, though they could live on as amendments attached to other proposals that originated in the Senate or have advanced faster through the process. The legislative session ends June 1.

The slow play has delayed a highly anticipated vote on a House bill prohibiting state, county and local officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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Same-sex marriage was banned under an amendment to the Texas Constitution approved by voters in 2005, but the proposal by Republican Rep. Cecil Bell of Magnolia, outside Houston, is designed to further shield the state from a possible high court ruling superseding that.

Bell’s plan was originally set for a vote as early as Tuesday. But it didn’t happen then or Wednesday as efforts to pass bills preceding it on House calendar bogged down.

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