Texas bill would discontinue salary of county clerks who issue same-sex marriage licenses

A Texas Representative filed a controversial bill to prevent county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The Preservation of Sovereignty of Marriage Act or HB 623 was filed by Rep. Cecil Bell who represents an area northwest of Houston.

Bell said the majority of Texans think same-sex marriage is morally wrong. That's why he filed the bill.

"Bills like 623 become important for Texans and as Americans to set in place that we have that right to traditional marriage, we have that right to traditional values and that we must assert those rights," said Bell.

The bill prevents the use of state or public funds for same-sex marriage licenses. If a state or local government employee grants a same-sex marriage license, they can lose their salary, pension and employee benefits.

Bell said that prevents employees from ignoring Texas' 2005 law banning gay marriage.

"The way that statute is crafted it doesn't put in place any of those things unless people act outside of the law," said Bell.

However, many people expect the ban to be struck down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. They heard arguments on the law last week. If that happens, HB 623 could be the only thing keeping county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

"That's intolerable. No hard working Texan should have to risk their job for simply following the law," said Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas.

Bell said under the constitution the courts are not supposed to make laws and he doesn't want any Texans forced into compromising their morals.

"So in the event that that federal overreach results in a ruling that is not favorable to traditional marriage, this affords an opportunity for Texans to at least maintain the power of the purse," said Bell.

Williams disagrees with Bell's tactics.

"No, the legislature shouldn't have to simply comply with whatever the courts tell them to, but neither should the courts do whatever the legislature passes," said Williams.

The Travis County Clerk said if the 5th Circuit Court strikes down the state ban on gay marriage, she will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.