Rabbi who presided over same‑sex wedding leads Texas House in prayer

Sarah Goodfriend, left, and Suzanne Bryant hold hands with Rabbi Kerry Baker during their wedding ceremony outside of the Travis County Clerk's office in Austin, Texas on Thursday morning, Feb. 19, 2015. Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman (AP)

Sarah Goodfriend, left, and Suzanne Bryant hold hands with Rabbi Kerry Baker during their wedding ceremony outside of the Travis County Clerk's office in Austin, Texas on Thursday morning, Feb. 19, 2015. Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman (AP)

Sarah Goodfriend, left, and Suzanne Bryant hold hands with Rabbi Kerry Baker during their wedding ceremony outside of the Travis County Clerk’s office in Austin, Texas on Thursday morning, Feb. 19, 2015.

AUSTIN, Texas — The rabbi who defied Texas’ same-sex marriage ban and wed a lesbian couple last week led the morning prayer in the Republican-dominated Texas House on Wednesday, catching staunch supporters of the prohibition off-guard.

Rabbi Kerry Baker didn’t reference the nuptials, which are being challenged by the state attorney general, but urged lawmakers to pay special attention to people who are marginalized and to treat everyone equally.

“It’s not enough to do what is good for the majority, but to do what is good for all of us,” Baker said.

Baker then stood for a photo with Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, who later acknowledged he was unaware Baker was involved in the wedding, and Rep. Elliott Naishtat, the Austin Democrat who introduced Baker. Naishtat subsequently said he intentionally omitted details of Baker’s role in the wedding during his introduction.

“This is a place where we believe in free speech, and that begins with a prayer each day,” Straus said after being told Baker oversaw the ceremony.

Republican Rep. Cecil Bell, who cut a celebratory cake during a religious rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday to mark the voter-approved ban’s 10th anniversary, also said he was unaware Baker was involved in the wedding.

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Bell, who has filed legislation that would prohibit county, state and local officials from recognizing, granting or enforcing same-sex marriage licenses, said he had “bigger things to concern” himself with than to “take exception to the decision as to who will do the prayer in the morning.”

He added: “I’m thankful that the body opens with a prayer.”

Baker married Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend just moments after the women were granted a marriage license by an Austin judge because Goodfriend has cancer. The women have been together for nearly 30 years and have two teenage daughters.

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