The Texas House of Representatives failed to pass HB 4105, otherwise known as the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, before a midnight deadline Thursday night, dooming – at least for now – the GOP-led effort to keep same-sex couples from marrying no matter what the Supreme Court decides in June.
Introduced by Republican Rep. Cecil Bell, the bill would have prohibited state or local government employees from recognizing, granting, or enforcing same-sex marriages. It would have also prohibited state or local funds from being spent on “an activity that includes the licensing or support of a same-sex marriage.”Texas already bans gay and lesbian couples from marrying, so the legislation would have at best been unnecessary. But in the anticipated event that the Supreme Court finds the U.S. Constitution requires states to license and/or recognize same-sex marriages later this year, the measure would have created a constitutional crisis within the Lone Star State, putting Texas officials in the middle of conflicting state and federal laws.
Many legal experts believe HB 4105 would have ultimately been challenged in federal court and found unconstitutional. But until that time, the measure would have effectively kept Texas’ same-sex marriage ban alive, perhaps for longer than it should have been.
The bill was one of more than 20 measures introduced in the Texas legislature this session that targeted – either directly, or indirectly – the rights of LGBT people. With over 90 Republican co-sponsors, the measure would likely have had no trouble clearing the 150-member state House. But opponents successfully ran out the clock this week, prolonging debate on other bills ahead of HB 4105 on the docket. In the end, HB 4105 came 23 bills short of a vote by the midnight deadline.
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Rep. Bell, for his part, appears undeterred. Midnight may have been the deadline for lawmakers to take up bills that originated in the House, but Bell could still attempt to attach the meat of his measure as an amendment to a related Senate bill before the legislative session ends June 1.
“From my perspective, no bill is dead as long as there are are other bills in front. You just have to find something that’s germane,” Bell told the Texas Tribune after the midnight deadline. “The session still moves on.”