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Texas lawmakers attempt to revive religious objections bill

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Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat, said he was concerned the proposal could allow churches to refuse biracial marriages.

“We justified, in this country, a lot of things based on religion – including we justified people of different races not being allowed to get married,” Ellis said.

Kris Segrest, lead pastor at the First Baptist Church in the Dallas suburb of Wylie, agreed that “there’s been a lot of really bad things done in the name of God.” But he also said Estes’ bill is limited enough to only allow church leaders to control their church’s religious policies, and won’t spill over into secular society.

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Several other religious objections proposals have stalled in the Texas Legislature. But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a tea party favorite who oversees the state Senate, assisted Estes with filing his bill weeks after the deadline and is helping fast-track it.

The measure potentially could become law before the end of the legislative session on June 1.

In February, a lesbian couple from Austin became the first same-sex couple to wed in Texas since voters passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2005. But they were only allowed to do so because of a judge’s order that was issued for urgent medical reasons.

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