Texas House Democrats did their Republican colleagues a favor Thursday.The minority caucus managed to stave off a vote on a bill that would have banned state employees from issuing same-sex marriage licenses, regardless of any federal action. Any bill that had not been voted on by Thursday night is dead for the regular 2015 Texas legislative session.
At least temporarily, a potential constitutional crisis has been avoided. Lest you think the fight was over, however, Representative Cecil Bell, the author of the license-banning proposal, has vowed to attempt to tack his idea onto an existing bill through the amendment process.
"We missed an opportunity tonight, but the session is still intact, the session still moves on," Bell told reporter. "No bill is dead, as long as there are other bills in front [that received an initial vote before the deadline]. You just have to find something that's germane [and add an amendment]."
Celia Israel, a Democratic state representative who was essential to slowing down, or "chubbing," Bell's anti-marriage bill, expressed relief after midnight, despite Bell's intentions.
"This bill dying means that many of my Republican colleagues will not be forced to choose between party loyalty and standing on the right side of history. This bill dying means that same-sex couples across the state will not be forced to witness their elected representatives debate if their love is as worthy as their neighbor's," she said.
Friday morning, the majority of Israel's Republican colleagues decided they couldn't help themselves, and jumped on the wrong side of history anyway. Ninety-three of the Texas House's 98 Republican members signed a letter backing Bell up, citing Texas' 2005 constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
"We, therefore, affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, and pledge to uphold and defend this principle that is so dearly held by Texans far and wide," the Republican representatives said.
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A 2014 poll by the Earl Survey Research Lab at Texas Tech University found that 48 percent of Texans supports same-sex marriage, while 47 percent oppose it.