News (USA)

Texas lawmakers to vote on two anti-LGBT bills this week


Updated: May 11, 2015.

AUSTIN, Texas — Mere weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard unprecedented arguments about whether the Constitution protects same-sex couples’ rights to marry, Texas Republicans are moving to shield the state from abiding by an eventual ruling that may not go their way.

Two bills on the issue are scheduled for hot-button House votes Tuesday. The most-watched proposal (HB 4105) would bar state, county and local officials from issuing or enforcing a same-sex marriage license, and prevent recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.

Supporters of the bill, led by State Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia), have reportedly said that their goal is to defy a potential June Supreme Court ruling that may grant the freedom to marry to same-sex couples throughout the country.

Eric Lesh, Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project Manager, issued the following statement in anticipation of tomorrow’s vote:

“This irresponsible attempt to defy a potential marriage ruling from the Supreme Court is as shameful as it is harmful,” said Eric Lesh, Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project Manager, in a statement Monday. “What is even more disturbing is that this bill is only one of more than 20 anti-LGBT bills currently under consideration in the Texas State Capitol.”

“The continued push for such blatantly discriminatory legislation illustrates that the Texas legislature is determined to demean LGBT people while confusing state employees who must follow the law set by the highest court in the country. The Texas legislature does not and should not get to pick and choose which parts of the U.S. Constitution it will follow,” said Lesh.

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Also up for debate and passage is a religious objections bill that could give Texas a taste of the uproar similar measures caused when legislatures approved them recently in Indiana and Arkansas. Rep. Scott Sanford wants to excuse clergy members from presiding over weddings that violate their religious beliefs. The McKinney Republican’s bill would also allow religious organizations to refuse to sell goods or provide services to same-sex couples.

Those votes come as the Senate prepares, perhaps as early as Monday, to approve its own religious objections measure – this one also shielding clergy members from officiating gay marriages they oppose on religious grounds.

The language of the bill is not as controversial, but conservative pastors supporting it lined up last week to decry gay marriage as offensive to God.

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