Thursday, May 21, 2015

Texas Bill that allows clergy members to refuse to conduct marriages that violate their conscience is Passed by Senate & House

A bill clarifying that clergy members have the right to refuse to conduct marriages violating their beliefs tentatively passed the Texas House 141-2 Thursday.

Critics argue the so-called Pastor Protection Act, Senate Bill 2065, is aimed at making it tougher for same-sex couples to marry in Texas, should the U.S. Supreme Court legalize gay marriages. The bill's author, state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, has said the bill is about protecting pastors "who have a strong religious belief " against same-sex marriage.

The bill passed out of the Senate earlier this month on a 21-10 vote, with one Democrat joining Republicans in support.

Yet most Democrats in the Texas House voted for the bill, and made it clear Thursday that they believe the measure protects religious institutions supporting gay marriage as well as those that oppose it. [Texas Tribune]