A Texas Senate committee on Tuesday approved a measure that would forbid state or local governments from using public money to issue same-sex marriage licenses, reviving a proposal that died in the House earlier this month.
The Committee on Intergovernmental Relations voted 4-2 in favor of House Bill 2977, sending it to the full Senate. It was the second time this week the panel voted on the wide-ranging county government bill, which included a provision on gay marriage. Committee Chairman Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, the Senate sponsor of the measure, agreed to the second vote after fellow Democrats said they were not given enough time to review the bill before they voted on it Monday.
“I can assure you that myself and Senator [Sylvia] Garcia would have voted no” if they had known about the anti-gay marriage provision, said state Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, at the Tuesday hearing. He said committee staff had distributed a copy of the bill just minutes before lawmakers convened to discuss it on Monday.
Lucio told reporters the anti-gay marriage provision of the broad "shell bill" was not intentionally kept secret from anyone on the committee.
"Every session there is a shell bill where some of the bills that were important to people get placed,” he said. “It’s not hidden in here anywhere.”
Lucio joined Republicans in voting yes on the bill. It included a provision that mirrored a bill filed by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, which failed to pass the House before its deadline earlier this month.
Texas already has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans this summer. If the court strikes down Texas' ban, it would likely have ramifications for HB 2977.
Lucio said the clock is ticking on HB 2977 as well.
“Quite frankly, it’s running out of time,” he said. “I don’t see, unless someone has magical powers in the House, it will move on and make it all the way through.”