Senate Passes Religious Liberty Bill Protecting Clerks from Being Forced to Issue Homosexual Marriage Licenses
April 17, 2017
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the Texas Senate continues to pass pro-family, pro-life, religious liberty legislation consistent with the 2016 Republican Party of Texas Platform. The most recent legislation, Senate Bill 522, would allow county clerks in Texas to decline to issue same-sex, homosexual marriage licenses if it violates their deeply held religious beliefs. Specifically, SB 522 by Sen. Brian Birdwell, allows clerks to recuse themselves from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The legislation is consistent with our Republican Party of Texas Platform. Page 11 of the Republican Party of Texas Platform states, “We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 21-10. “This provides a way for clerks to exercise their profoundly held religious beliefs under the First Amendment,” Birdwell said. “Right now, there is not an alternate mechanism for a clerk who is not willing to issue a license because of their sincerely held beliefs.” Most Democrats in the Senate opposed the religious liberty bill, taking the position that the state should be given authority to force one to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. “If we don’t do this we are discriminating against those people of faith,” Birdwell replied. “This bill protects the constitutional issues for both sides.” Birdwell further outlined the purpose of the bill, stating, “Without this, we’re saying that if you have strongly held religious beliefs, you are not welcome in public office.”
The question now becomes what will Speaker Joe Straus and his lieutenants do with this important piece of legislation? Unfortunately, he and his allies have consistently worked to kill religious liberty legislation in the House.
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