Following an emotional floor debate, the Texas Senate passed a resolution Wednesday evening reaffirming the state's opposition to same-sex marriage, an action taken as it became clear that a bill to prevent such marriages in Texas was dead.
The body's 20 Republican senators and state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, voted for Senate Resolution 1028, authored by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, that affirmed "the present definition" of marriage in the state.
“This resolution is intended by those of us who signed it to demonstrate that we continue to support what the people of this state have expressed," state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said.
State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa was among several Democrats who criticized the amendment. Hinojosa suggested Republicans were discriminating against gay people, including his own daughter.
“I’ve got a daughter who is gay," Hinojosa said. "I still love her.”
Hancock said he was offended by Hinojosa's implication.
“There’s no hate in this," Hancock told Hinojosa. "This is a resolution about marriage. ... I find it offensive when I’m accused for standing up for my convictions and I get accused of hate. You know me better than that.”
The tense exchange came after it was clear that time had run out on a provision that would have forbidden state or local governments from using public money to issue same-sex marriage licenses. That language mirrored a bill that failed in the House earlier this month, but Lucio joined Republicans seeking to revive it this week as part of a wide-ranging bill about local governance.
Texas already has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of such bans this summer. Proponents of the anti-gay marriage measure, originally filed as a bill in the House by state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, said it was intended to protect traditional marriage in Texas.
Lucio said he sought to revive the provision in the upper chamber to protect the traditional family values of his Catholic faith. He appended Bell’s anti-gay marriage language as an amendment to House Bill 2977, a broad county government bill, in a Senate committee earlier this week.
During the debate on Hancock's resolution, Lucio recalled his amendment and made clear that bill was dead. He said he believes his faith requires him to push for such measures.
“At the wedding in Cana, our lord Jesus Christ raised and established marriage to the status of sacrament, and it is expressed rightly in my Catholic faith," Lucio said.
Even if it had passed the Senate, HB 2977, as amended, would have likely met opposition in the Texas House. The anti-gay marriage language was unacceptable to the bill’s House author, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who vowed to kill it if it came back to the House that way.
With the bill’s defeat in the Senate, Coleman said, the anti-gay marriage provision is dead.
“I don’t know anything else they could attach it on,” he said.