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Committee Approves Bill Targeting Same-Sex Marriage

The House State Affairs Committee has passed a measure that forbids the use of state or local funds for issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

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*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

A Texas House committee on Wednesday passed a bill that seeks to prohibit same-sex marriages, even though the state already bans such unions. 

The measure is one of several proposals at the Texas Capitol 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 now 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."

Christina Gorczynski, campaign director for the pro-gay marriage advocacy group Texas Wins, said in a statement 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 oral 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 immediately put his own ruling on hold in anticipation of an appeal from the state. That appeal is currently pending before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit heard oral arguments in January and may wait until the Supreme Court rules before making a decision

Alexa Ura contributed to this report.

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Politics State government Gay marriage Texas Legislature