Texas democrats successfully ran out the clock on the bull-riding machine that was "the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act," a high-profile anti-gay marriage bill that the GOP claimed had wide support across Texas -- tmore than ten years ago.
House Bill 4105, dubbed by its author Rep. Cecil Bell (R) of Magnolia, Texas, would have stirred up a legal dustbowl of trouble if the Supreme Court delivers a pro-equality ruling this summer.
This measure, among others, was designed to shield the state in the event marriage equality is declared to be the law of the land. It would attempt to circumvent any such ruling by barring any and all state, county and local officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gay marriage has been illegal in Texas since an amendment to the Texas Constitution was approved by voters in 2005.
The deadline for House bills like HB4105 to get a first full-chamber vote expired Thursday night at midnight. The controversial act is among scores of measures that didn't get put to a vote, and are now considered dead -- although there's always the chance of being revived as amendments.
But the legality of the bill is still debatable, as it would require state officials to refuse to obey a federal judicial decision. That stalling tactic could have bought bigots a few more years of inequality, which in an election year would provide cover to conservatives looking to draw in votes from those hostile to LGBTs.
Federal law always trumps state law, even when it's a regulation of a federal agency. That means the chance that the law in Texas would survive a legal challenge is zero. But what legal experts say is that the endgame was to create litigation that could be drawn out for years, potentially harming thousands upon thousands of couples lives.
The bill had strong support in both the House and Senate, and Governor Greg Abbott was seen as likely to sign it into law.
But another bill, designed to shield pastors and other ministers who refuse to officiate at same sex weddings, is very much alive tonight: Senate Bill 2065 is now over at the House, after a vote this week that fell largely along party lines. One Democrat joined Republicans for a final tally of 21-10.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas State Senate, called the legislation a win for religious freedom everywhere.
"SB 2065 protects our churches and pastors from participating in any part of a marriage that is against their beliefs," Patrick said in a statement to.
Texas Public Radio reports the bill, which is similar to a bill in Okhahoma must be put to a vote before the session's May 26th deadline.