A conservative Texas legislator has proposed a bill that would deny county clerks their salary and benefits if they issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but one clerk says she’d be willing to defy such a law.
“I’m not intimidated,” Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told LGBT news site Towleroad Thursday. She added that Rep. Cecil Bell’s bill, called the Texas Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, has little chance of passing, and that court rulings in favor of marriage equality would most likely override it.
“I believe the courts would still support any clerk that acted under the direction of either the Supreme Court or the Fifth Circuit,” said DeBeauvoir, a Democrat whose county includes the liberal stronghold of Austin. “I feel like there’s no danger in me performing this duty, especially in accordance with a court order.”
Federal district judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage last year, but his ruling is on hold while the state appeals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments in the case last week, and the matter may eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court. DeBeauvoir was one of several county clerks who said they would issue licenses to same-sex couples if Garcia’s stay of the ruling were lifted.
Bell, a Republican, introduced his bill last week ahead of the court hearing. In addition to county clerks, it would penalize “any state employee who recognizes, grants or enforces a same-sex marriage license,” Towleroad notes. “That just makes it all the more offensive,” DeBeauvoir told the site. A similar bill has been proposed in South Carolina.