Shoveling sand against the same sex marriage tide

Rep. Cecil Bell is threatening to hold his breath till he turns purple if those nasty federal courts give the go ahead to same sex marriage in Texas.


State or local government employees giving out same-sex marriage licenses would stop receiving their salaries under a bill filed Wednesday for the 84th legislative session.

Titled the “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act,” House Bill 623 would prevent same-sex marriage from becoming legal in Texas. In 2005, voters backed a proposition defining marriage in the Texas Constitution as “solely the union of one man and one woman.” A San Antonio federal judge last year found the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional but immediately issued a stay on his ruling. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals [heard] oral arguments in the case on Friday.

State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, said he filed HB 623 to prevent any federal court or federal action from allowing gay marriage in Texas.

“The federal government is trying to act to create moral standards, and that’s just not acceptable,” Bell said.

His bill says taxes or public funds can’t be used to issue same-sex marriage licenses or be used to enforce a court order to recognize same-sex marriage.

The bill also requires state courts to dismiss legal actions that challenge a provision of the bill and award legal costs and attorney fees to the defendants. Citing the 11th Amendment, which gives states sovereign immunity, the bill also says the state isn’t subject to a lawsuit for complying with the act — regardless of a contradictory federal ruling.

“It is my belief and expectation that our courts should not be tied up in that matter,” Bell said.

It takes a truly special legal mind to come up with reasoning like that. The obvious response:

Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, told the Observer that Bell’s assertion that Texas can ignore federal law is “preposterous.”

“To then turn around and threaten the pensions, benefits and jobs of state employees for just doing their jobs is abhorrent,” Williams said. “It’s buying a lawsuit for the state.”

With the session set to begin Jan. 13, Williams said it’s too early to predict whether Bell’s bill has a chance of passing.

“It’s certainly far outside the mainstream, but it’s something we”ll be watching very carefully,” Williams said. “The Legislature can always pass unconstitutional laws, and then it’s litigated in the courts. I’m guessing Cecil Bell wants to make sure Ken Paxton has plenty of work to do in his new job as attorney general.”

Of course, here you see the sheer genius of Bell’s bill: It says Texas will stick its fingers in its ears and refuse to listen to what the courts have to say, and where do we have to go to fight this bill if it passes? To the courts! And poof, just like that Dan Savage disappears in a puff of logic, or something like that. It might be better to oppose this in the Legislature and ensure that it never sees the light of day, and to that end Equality Texas is sounding the alarm. It would be a good idea to contact your representatives and make sure they know that you do not support HB 623. It’s easy to be snarky and cynical about crap like this – and Lord knows, there’s going to be a lot more of it coming – but that’s not going to help. Let’s take this seriously and make sure our elected officials – even and especially those we didn’t vote for – know how we feel about it.

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