Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Texas
Part 5: 2015-MAY:
Legislature debates anti-same-sex marriage bills:
On this web site, the acronym SSM refers to same-sex marriage. "LGBT"
refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual community.
2015-MAY-11: Bill introduced to prohibit county clerks from issuing licenses to same-sex couples, and registering their marriages:
Over twenty anti-LGBT bills have been introduced into the Texas legislature during the 2015 session. They are apparently in preparation for a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in mid-2015 that may legalize same-sex marriage in the 13 states and the five U.S. territories where marriage inequality continues. Texas is one of these states.
The U.S. Supreme Court will be issuing a ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges in late June or early July. This is a consolidation of four marriage equality cases, one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Most political commentators and Supreme Court watchers consider it likely that the High Court will legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country.
Rep. Cecil Bell (R) filed Bill HB 4015 in the Texas House of Representatives. It would prohibit state and county officials from using taxpayer dollars to:
"... issue, enforce, or recognize a marriage license ... for a union other than a union between one man and one woman." 1
He justifies this as a simple method to preserve "state sovereignty over marriage."
In reality, few if any constitutional experts doubt the authority of individual states to write their laws defining who can marry. That is because the federal Constitution does not mention marriage at all. This automatically gives to the states or to the people the responsibility to define who is allowed to marry. However, since there are hundreds of state benefits and protections that accompany marriage, defining who many marry is clearly a state responsibility. The only point of disagreement is whether states are required by the Due Process and Equal Opportunity clauses of the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution to treat same-sex couples in the same way as they treat opposite-sex couples in marriage legislation.
A majority of members of the Texas House of Representatives supported the bill. Since the Texas Senate is generally regarded as more conservative than the House, the bill should have no difficulty being passed by the Legislature. However, there is a tight time schedule that must be met for the bill to pass.
If the high court legalizes same-sex marriage in Texas, then this bill would be clearly unconstitutional. However, it is likely that the state will consume a lot of taxpayer dollars to hopelessly fight a court battle to preserve the bill.
Some readers of the article in the San Antonio Current posted comments that illustrate the range of beliefs among the public:
- "Phillis Rectum" posted:
"What a bunch of frauds. This isn't about their religious convictions -- if it was, then Christians would have banned Atheist marriage long ago -- because atheism is the greatest affront to their Christian cult beliefs. This about their hatred for gays. Nothing else They are simply too cowardly to admit what their real motivation is. Can you hear any protests out there calling for a ban on Atheist marriage? ... Nope. Because it isn't about their religion. It's about their hatred."
- Melisa Pendley responded:
"Everyone has a right to choose...that doesn't mean they have the right to take something we hold as sacred and make a mockery of it. Why is it that you think to disagree with something equals hate? Can you tell me one person on earth that you agree with their lifestyle 100%? If you disagree with another person's beliefs does that make YOU a hater? a bigot? a racist? That entire mind-frame is ridiculous. I am entitled to my beliefs. You are entitled to yours. I disagree with same sex marriage...you don't! So which one of us is the hater? I disagree with many drugs i.e. heroin/cocaine and yes even marijuana ...I think they should all be illegal...many people, including drug dealers and addicts think there is nothing wrong with them. Do I hate them...NO...do they hate me? I hope not! ... I am a Christian. I have loved ones that are Atheist...Wiccan...Agnostic! Hate? Are you kidding me? It makes me angry that you would even insinuate that...Guess what...I can be angry and I still don't hate you!"
- MichaelD responded:
"It has absolutely NOTHING to do with disagreeing with other people. Yes, you would be correct I don't agree with many things people have within their lives, but as long as it does NOT affect me, I don't care what they do with THEIR lives. Gay marriage is the EXACT same thing. It has no affect on your life so you should not try to get in the way of others that want to do that. You have the full 100% right to be as much against it as you want, but as soon as you put forth effort to try and stop or prevent it when it has no affect on your life, that is when you do in fact show hatred and bigotry toward others."
- jjgrandisland responded:
"Making a mockery of it". Can you be serious? These are tax paying, law abiding citizens who have paid more taxes and [received] fewer benefits. They are also raising children...many of them cleaning up the messes of your so called perfect marriages. So stop this nonsense. Please note I am not calling you a bigot or hater. I am just calling you cruel, insensitive and very, very un-American." 2
[Minor corrections were made in spelling and grammar].
Comments by representatives of pro-marriage equality groups:
Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, issued a statement suggesting that Texas could become a laughingstock if the bill becomes law. He said:
“This end-run play to subvert a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, to which the State of Texas would be constitutionally bound, makes Texas a laughing stock and flies in the face of Texas values. A statewide poll released this week found that two-thirds of Texans support laws to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. Meanwhile, lawmakers like Cecil Bell want to unleash an Indiana-style discrimination firestorm. Reasonable Texas legislators need to step forward and stop this shameful attack on LGBT Texans." 2
While a fairly large percentage of Texans support protection for the LGBT community against discrimination in employment, etc. a plurality of adults still still oppose same-sex marriage. A poll in 2014-OCT revealed that
- 42% favored legalizing same-sex marriage, and
- 47% opposed same sex marriage.
Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is not impressed with HB 4015. She said:
"It’s shocking that Texas lawmakers would pursue a path that would set up this showdown between the Texas legislature and the courts." 1
Chuck Smith is president of Equality Texas, a pro-equality group. He said:
"Texas is pioneering a new strategy to prevent equality for its LGBT residents, to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court and even roll back gains that have been made in the state." 1
Comments by representatives of anti-marriage equality groups:
Mat Staver is president of the Liberty Counsel, a very conservative Christian legal defense group that has fought cases on behalf of defendants that want to engage in discrimination against the LGBT community. He said:
"This [bill] is indicative of this clash that we’re seeing and will see at an increased level with the Supreme Court ruling coming. ... Texas is pioneering a new strategy to prevent equality for its LGBT residents, to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court and even roll back gains that have been made in the state." 1
Steven Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, a political action committee said:
"By taking a stand on homosexual ‘mirage’ -- and I call it ‘mirage’ because it’s counterfeit, it’s false, it’s a lie -- it will send a loud signal and be a rallying cry across the country for those who do not want to redefine marriage." 1
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Sandhya Somashekhar, "Tex. bill would bar local officials from issuing same-sex-marriage licenses," Washington Post, 2015-MAY-11, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Albert Salazar, "Lawmakers To Vote On Unconstitutional Gay Marriage Bill On Tuesday," San Antonio Current, 2015-MAY-08, at: http://www.sacurrent.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 2015-MAY-13
Last updated 2015-JUL-02
Author: Bruce A Robinson