Anti-gay marriage bill hijacks Houston Democrat

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MORE | Anti-gay marriage measure dies in Texas Senate

The Texas Senate revived a once-dead measure to defy a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, using a bill from a gay-friendly Houston lawmaker to do it. 

On Tuesday, the Senate added language from state Rep. Cecil Bill's anti-gay marriage bill – derailed two weeks ago by chubbing – to the uncontroversial House Bill 2977 from state Rep. Garnet Coleman, a gay-friendly Houston Democrat. Sen. Eddie Lucio, a Democrat from Brownsville, added the language to Coleman's bill. A floor vote could come Wednesday, the last day for the Senate to consider new legislation. 

Maybe chubbing will kill it. Again. 

But if not, Coleman (photo) says he'll kill his own bill before allowing it to become a vehicle for anti-gay legislation. 

From the Statesman:

“I don’t have any problem with stopping bad legislation,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. “I’m not going to be forced into carrying somebody else’s hate in my legislation. It’s just not going to happen.”

Coleman said that if the Senate approves the marriage addition, he would try to strip it out in a conference committee or, if that does not seem feasible, withdraw the bill from consideration altogether.

“Ultimately, the fate of legislation is in the hands of the author, and I’m the author,” Coleman said.

No really, he's serious. Coleman, in fact, filed a measure before the session opened to help undo the state's gay marriage ban. 

From the Houston Chronicle:

“If I can't get it off, then the bill goes to bill heaven,” Coleman said. “I don't support that legislation or that language.”

The language, like Bell's original bill, would ban state officials from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. LGBT activists decried the revival of the anti-gay legislation.

“At its core, the amendment added to HB 2977 by Sen. Lucio is an attempt to subvert any future ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the freedom to marry,” Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said in a press release. “Pursuing a strategy to defy the Supreme Court will cost Texas taxpayers millions in litigation and cause great damage to our economy and reputation. In its present form, HB2977 must be defeated.”

Also Wednesday, a measure from state Rep. Scott Sanford, a McKinney Republican, that would allow state-funded, faith-based child welfare providers to discriminate against LGBT people failed to materialize. LGBT activists expected that Sanford's anti-gay measure would be added to Senate Bill 206. But that measure passed 146-0 without the amendment. 

Sanford's measure was the object of intense political maneuvering late Tuesday.

From the Texas Tribune:

House Democrats were on alert for a proposed amendment by state Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, that would have shielded religious organizations from being sued if they prohibited gay and lesbian couples from adopting children or becoming foster parents.

Though the Sanford amendment was eventually withdrawn and the bill passed in the House, a similar amendment was briefly revived in the Texas Senate, which also worked late into the night. 

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, sought to add the amendment to a House bill sponsored by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, that would direct the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to study “kinship care” programs.

But Campbell quickly pulled the proposal down after state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, sought to kill the provision on a technicality. The Senate unanimously passed the bill, HB 2655, once the amendments were withdrawn.


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