Beaten but not defeated, the GOP caucus in the Texas House issued a letter making it clear they really, really dislike gay marriage despite failing to pass an anti-gay marriage bill a day earlier.
All but five of the 98 Republicans in the House signed the measure. The lone holdout among Houston-area Republicans? Rep. Sarah Davis (photo), a gay-friendly lawmaker who's authored LGBT-inclusive legislation and been endorsed by a statewide gay rights groups.
The letter came Friday, a day after the House failed to vote on a bill from Rep. Cecil Bell that would have prohibited state and local officials from issuing licenses to gay couples if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage this summer. Bell vows that he'll try to amend the measure and his party made clear in its letter that it supports his efforts.
“Traditional marriage is the bedrock institution of both our society and the success Texas has been blessed to experience since our admission as the 28th state within these United States of America,” the letter states.
“We, therefore, affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, and pledge to uphold and defend this principle that is so dearly held be Texans far and wide,” the letter adds.
That view isn't so widely held, especially in Harris County, but OK. Houston-area Republicans that signed the letter include Reps. Mike Schofield, Jim Murphy, Gary Elkins, Dwayne Bohac, Gilbert Pena and Debbie Riddle.
Davis, first elected in 2010, defeated gay Democrat Ann Johnson in 2012. Ahead of her 2014 race, she was endorsed by the Texas Equality PAC, the first time the group backed a Republican.
Davis authored legislation to ensure equal hospital visitation and medical decision-making, and she helped defeat an effort to ban LGBT resource centers on college campuses. She also happens to be the lone House Republican who voted against Texas’ strict new abortion regulations.
“The majority of Republicans agree with most of our legislative priorities,” said Texas Equity PAC volunteer Daniel Williams. “We have to make it safe for Republican representatives to be out front on those issues. Rep. Davis has done that and she’s facing a primary opponent who is decidedly anti-equality. Endorsing Rep. Davis in the Republican primary isn’t just the smart thing to do, it’s a vital step towards making it safe for other Republicans to represent true Texas values of fairness.”
Davis' district includes West University Place, Bellaire, River Oaks and Memorial Park. The other four Republicans who joined Davis in refusing to sign the letter are Reps. Jason Villalba od Dallas, Matt Schaefer of Tyler, Larry Gonzales of Round Rock and Speaker Joe Straus.