Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Texas Passes Bill To Protect Clergy and Religious Groups That Object To Same-Sex Marriage

Anticipating the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming decision on marriage equality, the Texas legislature last week gave final passage and sent to the governor for his signature S.B. No. 2065 (full text) to protect clergy and religious groups who object to same-sex marriage.  The bill provides:
A religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, an individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if the action would cause the organization or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief.
It goes on to provide that this shields the organization and individuals against civil or criminal claims or governmental denial of benefits. Last Friday's Dallas Morning News, reporting on the legislature's action, also reported that a separate bill designed to impede issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by county clerks will not move ahead this session.

UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 2065 on June 11. (Austin Standard-Times).