Texas' Latest Anti-Gay Bill, The Depressingly Awful HB 4105, Could Go Head-To-Head With SCOTUS' Decision
Just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a landmark ruling that will make same-sex marriage a Constitutional right for every American, the state of Texas has proposed a bill that attempts to undermine that decision. Texas will vote on anti-gay marriage House Bill 4105 on Tuesday, and if it passes, the law would prohibit local or state tax money from being spent to issue, enforce, or recognize same-sex marriages. Not only is the bill expected to pass, it's also expected to cause damage to gay residents of Texas even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality.
HB 4105 has three main provisions:
- State or local funds may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of a same-sex marriage.
- A state or local governmental employee may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license.
- State or local funds may not be used to enforce an order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.
The bill would also prohibit governmental employees in Texas to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. By making it illegal for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, HB 4105 is essentially an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court's impending federal ruling on gay marriage.
Written and filed by Republican Representative Cecil Bell Jr., HB 4105 is one of 20 anti-gay bills filed this year in Texas. Bell started the wave of anti-gay marriage proposals by filing House Bill 623, also known as the Preservation of Sovereignty of Marriage Act, in January. That bill seeks to punish any governmental clerk who issues a same-sex marriage license by stripping them of their salary, pension, and other benefits.
In January, Bell told Fox 7 News in Austin:
Bills like 623 become important for Texans and as Americans to set in place that we have that right to traditional marriage, we have that right to traditional values and that we must assert those rights.
And as for that pesky little federal ruling that the Supreme Court is expected to hand down? Bell gave his two cents on that as well, telling The Texas Tribune in January:
The federal government is trying to act to create moral standards, and that's just not acceptable.
While both HB 623 and HB 4105 are completely regressive pieces of legislature, they will likely, and unfortunately, pass. HB 4105 has 78 Republican co-authors, which is more than 50 percent of the 150 House members.
However, some critics of the bills point out that undermining the Supreme Court's ruling would taint Texas' reputation and have negative economic ramifications. Kathy Miller, president of the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network, said at a press conference on Monday:
Texas is pioneering a legislative effort to subvert a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage and lock in discrimination against gay and transgender people and their families. ... But it definitely risks a major backlash from the business community and from Texas voters … that would damage the brand of Texas for a long time to come.
And one other reason why passing these bills might not be a good idea? According to Article Six, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, all state judges must follow federal law, which means that going against it would be unconstitutional. If gay marriage becomes a constitutional right and these bills pass in rebellion of that, then Texas can expect a few lawsuits to come its way.
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