The Texas Senate on Tuesday tentatively
approved a bill that would allow county clerks to refuse to issue
marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples based on their religious
According to the Houston
Chronicle, the bill cleared the chamber with a 21-10 vote.
Republican Senator Brian Birdwell
authored Senate Bill 522. It would allow clerks to recuse themselves
if another clerk or judge can step in and issue the marriage
Birdwell said that the bill was needed
to protect the religious liberty of county clerks, judges and others.
“If we don't do this, we are
discriminating against people of faith,” Birdwell said. “This
bill protects the constitutional issues for both sides.”
While the Supreme Court legalized
same-sex marriage nationwide in the 2015 case Obergefell,
lawmakers in Texas were unable to address the issue because Texas'
Republican-controlled Legislature only meets every two years.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas
Freedom Network, said in a statement that the bill “opens the door
to taxpayer-funded discrimination against virtually anyone who
doesn't meet a public official's personal moral standards.”