A Republican Texas state lawmaker has filed a bill attempting to re-ban same-sex marriage in the highly likely event it is made legal in the Lone Star State by federal courts.
Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. on Wednesday introduced House Bill 623, which he’s calling the “Texas Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act.”
The bill would essentially declare Texas a sovereign state when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, meaning it wouldn't have to comply with federal court rulings.
The Texas Observer reports:
HB 623 would amend the Texas Family Code to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for the “the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.” It would also bar government employees from recognizing, granting or enforcing same-sex marriage licenses. Any government employee who violates the provision would be barred from collecting “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”
HB 623 would also require Texas courts to dismiss challenges to the law and award attorneys’ fees to defendants. And it would grant Texas sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it comes to enforcing the law, “regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.”
“When I was elected, I made a promise to my constituents to fight to protect our traditional values and to stand strong in the defense of our constitutional rights as Texans and Americans,” Bell said in a release. “Texas is a sovereign state and our citizens have the right to define marriage. We as Texans voted in 2005 to define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. In Texas marriage is sacred and traditional families are recognized as the fabric of our society.”
Last February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas' marriage bans as unconstitutional. But Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear oral arguments in the case on Friday.
More on Bell's bill from The Texas Tribune:
"The federal government is trying to act to create moral standards, and that's just not acceptable," Bell said.
Daniel Williams, a legislative specialist for the gay rights group Equality Texas, said the bill would go against legal precedent.
“This bill is retreading very well-established precedent here. In 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Texas v. White that no, Texas does may not ignore federal law whenever it wants,” Williams said. “Beyond it ignoring federal law, it would actually punish state employees who follow the law.”
Ken Upton, Dallas-based senior counsel at Lambda Legal, called the bill "laughable."