News (USA)

Texas anti-gay marriage bill dead for now as deadline passes

Cecil Bell
Cecil Bell AP

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Outnumbered Democrats bled the clock to midnight. They stalled with lengthy debates over noncontroversial issues and tied up the floor with a no-hope bill to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, knowing that Republicans would have sacrifice other legislation to move up the anti-gay marriage measure.

Despite emotions running high on both sides, the atmosphere in the Capitol matched the slow pace on the floor. The House gallery was largely empty most of the day, with neither opponents nor supporters making their presence felt.

Texas Republicans saw the bill as a way to put the state at the forefront of resistance if the Supreme Court upholds same-sex marriage. If signed by Abbott, it could lay the groundwork for Texas to potentially raise new legal battles over its ability to regulate marriage licenses.

But legal experts have cast doubt over how much success Texas would have mounting such a challenge.

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The Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year already prohibited county officials in that state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lawmakers in South Carolina are also pushing a bill similar to what was filed in Texas.

With the Texas Legislature less than three weeks from adjourning, Republicans have accelerated legislation that gay rights activists consider hostile. This week began with the Senate giving approval for clergy members to refuse to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs.

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