A bill that would prohibit local governments in Texas from recognizing same-sex unions legally performed in other states is expected to go before lawmakers on Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. The bill, House Bill 4105, was one of over 20 bills introduced during the 2015 legislative session that would make it more difficult for gay couples to wed in Texas. Such bills are thought to be in response to an anticipated Supreme Court ruling that would presumably strike-down states’ same-sex marriage bans.
HB 4105 would attempt to override such a ruling by prohibiting state or local tax dollars from being used for issuing, enforcing or recognizing same-sex marriages, and would bar county clerks from filing same-sex marriage licenses. “This will make certain our dollars are used the way we as Texans want them used,” the bill’s author, Republican Rep. Cecil Bell, said during a committee hearing in April, according to the Statesman. Seventy lawmakers co-authored the bill, which is expected to pass the Republican-controlled House and make its way to the Senate.
A Travis County judge ruled that the state’s gay marriage law was unconstitutional in February after an Austin couple sought to have their eight-year relationship recognized as a common-law marriage. County clerks, however, have not been told to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Opponents of HB 4105 say the bill is unconstitutional. “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,” Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said in a statement, according to the Washington Blade. “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 [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] Texans.” Indiana lawmakers sought to pass a so-called religious freedom bill in March that would have allowed private businesses to refuse to serve gay couples, a move that sparked a national boycott against the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month over whether states could bar same-sex marriages. The country’s high court is expected to decide the issue in June.