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Head of GSD&M Urges Opposition to Gay Marriage Bill

The big question in the House on Thursday was whether the midnight deadline would strike before Republicans could bring up a controversial gay marriage bill.

Sarah Goodfriend, second from left, and Suzanne Bryant, center, with their daughters (far left and far right) and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, second from right. DeBeauvoir issued Goodfriend and Bryant a marriage license on Feb. 19, 2015.

The CEO of high-profile Austin ad agency GSD&M circulated a letter Thursday afternoon stating his opposition to HB 4105, the gay marriage bill supported by House Republicans as a way to prevent the handing out of marriage licenses to same-sex couples should the U.S. Supreme Court rule against states’ ability to ban same-sex marriage.

In his letter, Duff Stewart credited a diverse workforce for his company’s success.

“Without an inclusive and open environment, our agency would fail,” Stewart wrote. “We wouldn’t be able to attract the best talent or cultivate a culture in which anyone can feel comfortable sharing his or her own beliefs, living their life and be proud to do so. We put our people first, and we expect our government officials to do so as well.

“The clock is ticking, and GSD&M urges other Texas business leaders to speak out now and advocate for change so the generations to come are free of these discriminatory discussions and closed-minded thinking.”


Some bills due up for consideration before HB 4105 included Doug Miller’s HB 3196 clarifying the law on what constitutes improper photography and Byron Cook’s HB 37 requiring disclosure of the sources of “dark money” spent to influence political campaigns.

All of those represented potential collateral damage from the chubbing effort intended to derail the gay marriage bill.


One high-profile bill on public education funding fell victim to the legislative maneuvering around HB 4105 earlier in the day.

Facing a slew of amendments and the prospect of a day-long debate holding up hundreds of other bills ahead of the chamber's key bill passing deadline, Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock pulled the plug on his attempt to fix the state’s school finance system ahead of Supreme Court action.

Aycock — who acknowledged from the start he faced a tough battle to get lawmakers to tackle reforming the state's problem-plagued school finance system with the lawsuit pending before the Texas Supreme Court — had at least hoped to have a floor debate on the issue.

But with the Senate unlikely to move on the matter even if it did clear the House, Aycock said it was unfair to tie up the chamber's time with the bill.


At a House Ways and Means hearing this week, members learned about a previously unknown problem with the Senate’s property tax cut proposal. Senate Joint Resolution 1 would ask voters to amend the constitution to approve a change in the homestead exemption. The election would be on Sept. 12.

Ro'Vin Garrett, the Brazoria County tax assessor-collector, speaking for the Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas, said running that election will cause some problems. For starters, it’ll cost money.

Then there’s the trouble of holding that election so close to the start of early voting for the uniform November election.

“The two elections, one September, one November, back to back, is a concern,” Garrett said.

Garrett said that holding the election in September could cause troubles for counties in sending accurate property tax bills to homeowners on time. Holding that election any later would make it even tougher.


The Texas Association of Business announced the creation of the Nelson Salinas Education Fund in memory of its government affairs manager who passed away earlier this month.

The fund is designed to help his niece and nephew with their college costs. For more information on how to donate, click here.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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