Texas House Schedules Vote on Bill Blocking Freedom to Marry

by Dan Quinn

The Texas Legislature appears on the verge of passing Indiana-style legislation that discriminates against gay and lesbian families, barring same-sex couples from getting married even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the state’s ban on those unions. We just sent out the following press release:

Civil liberties and LGBT rights organizations today joined in warning the Texas House of Representatives against passage next week of legislation intended to subvert a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage and lock in discrimination against gay and lesbian families.

HB 4105 by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, is set for debate and a vote on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 12.

The bill would prohibit local and state officials from granting, enforcing or recognizing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, and it bans public funding from being used to do so. The bill’s supporters have said their goal is to defy a potential Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

HB 4105 is one of more than 20 proposed bills in the Texas Legislature that would enshrine in state law discrimination against gay and transgender Texans.

Chuck Smith, executive director, Equality Texas

“Extremist lawmakers in Texas are trying to preserve the right to discriminate no matter what the Supreme Court might say about marriage. Passing this bill would make Texas look intolerant and unwelcoming and would harm the state. It must be rejected.

Kathy Miller, president, Texas Freedom Network

“This irresponsible and mean-spirited bill doesn’t just put Texas on a collision course with a potential Supreme Court ruling. Its passage would also bring national condemnation by attempting to lock in discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who simply want to make a lifetime commitment and protect their families the same way everyone else does. It’s clear that some of the folks at the Texas Capitol learned little from the way Indiana’s lawmakers wrecked their state’s national reputation with their own discriminatory legislation this spring.”

Terri Burke, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

“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 laughingstock 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.”

Nick Hudson, state director, Texas for Marriage

“This legislation is out of step with the majority of Texans who believe marriage is a fundamental freedom that should not be denied to anyone. House Bill 4105 is discriminatory, and this attempt to create a barrier against the direction in which Texas and America is heading is shameful, backwards and mean-spirited. We are disappointed that Representative Bell would rather spend his time enshrining discrimination into Texas law rather than serving his constituents and promoting freedom.”

Marty Rouse, national field director, Human Rights Campaign

“This bill has nothing to do with Texas values and has everything to do with enshrining discrimination into state law. At a moment when people across this state—and across the country—are calling for all people to be treated fairly, the Texas Legislature must not send this state backwards with dangerous and hostile Indiana-style legislation.”