A Republican effort to pass a bill that would prohibit government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Texas failed to come to a vote, as Texas Democrats successfully ran out the clock on Friday. Republicans had until midnight Friday to pass the bill, which had nearly unanimous GOP support in the Republican-controlled chamber. However, Democrats stalled by engaging in long debates over noncontroversial pieces of legislation, and by introducing measures sure to be voted down, like raising the state’s minimum wage.
The anti-gay marriage bill’s sponsor Cecil Bell (R-Montgomery County) expressed frustration that the GOP had been outmaneuvered by the Democratic minority. Bell complained, ”there was a bunch of folks who don’t think that state sovereignty is a high priority”. Democratic Rep. Celia Israel (North Austin/Pflugerville) offered a different perspective from Bell’s. She exclaimed:
We’re sending a message to Texas that this is worth fighting for. We’re not in the majority. We don’t control the ship. But we can help to steer it in the right direction.
This is not the first time Texas Republicans have been defeated by a passionate Democratic minority in the Lone Star State. In June 2013, State Senator Wendy Davis (Fort Worth) led a successful Democratic filibuster of anti-abortion legislation in the state’s upper chamber, running out the Senate clock, and forcing Republicans to regroup in order to push through anti-abortion legislation in a later session. Davis’ long floor speech captured national attention and caused the GOP some embarrassment.
As time expired on the anti-gay marriage bill Friday, more than 20 pieces of legislation were still stacked ahead of Bell’s bill. The Democrats had placed enough procedural hurdles in the way to prevent the GOP bill from coming to a floor vote.
Although the Texas legislature is dominated by Republicans, Lone Star state Democrats continue to fight for the rights of everyday Texans. Those Democrats are determined to stand up and fight, using whatever legal means possible to ensure that LGBT Texans are not denied the right to marry the person they love.