The Republican Party of Texas is considering censuring a GOP congressman from the state for his votes in favor of marriage equality and gun control.
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents the 23rd Congressional District in south Texas, was the only Republican from the state to vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act last year. The act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, writes marriage equality into federal law, protecting it in case the Supreme Court overturns the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that established equal marriage rights nationwide.
He also voted in favor of a gun control package after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The package, passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by Biden, expands background checks for gun purchases, tightens restrictions on purchases by those with a history of domestic violence, and provides funding for mental health programs.
Gonzales, who is in his second term, has already been censured by the Medina County Republicans for these and other actions, including his opposition to some anti-immigration legislation. The county group’s censure resolution, approved in February, calls Gonzales “a poor representative for his Republican constituents” and urges other Republican groups to take action against him.
That led to a statewide censure resolution that the State Republican Executive Committee will vote on at its quarterly meeting this weekend, according to the San Antonio Report. The vote is expected to take place Saturday morning.
If the censure is approved, the Texas Republican Party could punish Gonzales in several ways. “They could simply discourage Gonzales from running for reelection as a Republican, or they could lift the restriction on party officials campaigning against him, as is required for current GOP officeholders,” the Report notes. “Perhaps of greater consequence, they also could prohibit Gonzales from receiving financial help from the party.”
Gonzales was first elected to the U.S. House in 2020, when he defeated gay Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones for the open seat after moderate Republican Will Hurd retired. He was reelected last year in a race against Democrat John Lira. So far, he hasn’t commented to local or national media on the possibility of censure.
The last time the Texas Republicans approved a censure was in 2018, when they took the action against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who had opposed an anti-transgender “bathroom bill.”
The Texas Republican Party is known for its anti-LGBTQ+ and generally far-right stances. It adopted a platform last year that called homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and opposed “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”
A gay Republican state legislator in Missouri may be censured by the local party because of his support for marriage equality. The Jackson County Republican Committee decided this week that censuring Rep. Chris Sander was outside its responsibilities, but the group is forming a separate committee to consider censuring him at some point.