Texas Senate OKs bill allowing clergy to refuse gay marriage

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The state Senate has voted to allow clergy members to refuse performing marriages that violate their beliefs, further shielding Texas from a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

Approved Monday 21-10, Republican Sen. Craig Estes' bill requires a final Senate vote before heading to the House.

It raises some of the same issues as so-called "religious objections" proposals that sparked national outcry after being approved in Indiana and Arkansas. Supporters say such measures protect religious freedoms, but advocacy groups argue they are licenses to discriminate against gay people.

Texas' measure is less controversial, largely restating existing law.

Still, it follows the nation's high court hearing arguments about the constitutionality of gay marriage - which some supporters of Estes' proposal openly decry as offensive to God.

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