A state House committee passed a bill Wednesday that seeks to prohibit same-sex marriages, even though the state already bans such unions.
The measure is one of several proposals targeting same-sex marriage and the first one that has cleared a legislative committee this session, according to the Texas Freedom Network, which describes itself as fighting initiatives backed by the state’s religious right.
The State Affairs Committee passed House Bill 4105, which would forbid the use of state or local funds for issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The 7-3 vote was along party lines, with only Republicans supporting the measure. The proposal heads to a committee that schedules legislation for debate by the full House.
“The intent is to assert the sovereign rights of Texas and of the citizens of Texas,” said Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, the bill’s author. “I believe it is a bipartisan issue — our social rights and our traditional values.”
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Christina Gorczynski, campaign director for the pro-gay-marriage advocacy group Texas Wins, said in a statement that the measure is unconstitutional.
“HB 4105 is blatant discrimination, which is bad for business and our reputation nationwide,” Gorczynski said.
The passage comes less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on challenges to same-sex-marriage bans in four other states.
A U.S. district judge ruled in 2014 that Texas’ same-sex-marriage ban was unconstitutional, but he put his own ruling on hold in anticipation of an appeal by the state.
That appeal is pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit heard arguments in January and may delay its decision until the Supreme Court rules.