Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can't quite decide what he wants to do if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage, but defended conservative lawmakers who tried – and failed – to defy a court decision backing marriage equality.
“Depending on what the Supreme Court decides, that's the time we will have to make a decision depending on their decision, how we respond to them,” Patrick told the Texas Tribune on Thursday. (Watch below)
What Patrick was trying to say, without his big boy words or eloquence, was that he – like Attorney General Ken Paxton – will do whatever they can to keep gay couples from marrying in Texas. Even if the Supreme Court says it's legal. Their legislative effort – state Rep. Cecil Bell's House Bill 4105 – flopped, so Patrick's Republican-controlled Senate and the House passed resolutions thumbing their noses at gay marriage.
“But we did have, I thought, a great debate on the floor on traditional marriage and same-sex marriage,” Patrick said of the squabbling over the Senate's anti-gay marriage resolution.
Even though Bell's bill failed, Patrick says the state has made it clear that Texans don't want gay marriage. Nevermind those polls.
“You can't write a bill that trumps our constitution. Our constitution says marriage is between a man and a woman. Period,” Patrick told the Texas Tribune.
Patrick was also non-committal on echoing the calls from Steven Hotze, a Houston-based anti-gay wing nut, and other anti-gay conservatives who want to bring lawmakers back to Austin for a special session to respond to a court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
“The governor makes those decisions not the lieutenant governor. I have been very careful to understand that the governor is the governor, the lieutenant governor is the lieutenant governor and the speaker is the speaker. I perform best when I focus on my work,” Patrick said the Texas Tribune.
For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott told WOAI on Monday that he does “not anticipate any special session.”
Patrick did respond to conservative critics – yes, he really has some – by reminding them that even if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage, thanks to lawmakers like him pastors in the state won't be forced into officiating those yucky gay marriages. That's due to the Pastor Protection Act, which passed in May and shields pastors who refuse to perform gay marriages.
“In terms of the marriage issue we passed the Pastor Protection Bill, which was the key bill I know that a number of people wanted passed – very important,” Patrick said.
Patrick said the legislation was another pre-emptive strike at a possible Supreme Court ruling.
“We responded, we thought, number one by protecting pastors. We didn't want pastors forced to perform a wedding, a same-sex wedding, against their religious belief. And we passed that bill and that will be another fight depending on what the Supreme Court decides,” Patrick told the media outlet.