Texas House mulls letting clergy refuse to marry gay couples

By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The state House is set to take up a bill allowing clergy members to refuse to perform marriages that violate their beliefs, potentially shielding Texas from a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

The measure sailed through the Senate and should enjoy strong support from majority Republicans during Thursday's lower chamber floor debate.

It's similar to controversial "religious objections" proposals in Indiana and Arkansas. Supporters say they protect religious freedoms, but advocacy groups see them as licenses to discriminate against gay people.

The language of the Texas proposal is less hot-button. But a divisive bill prohibiting government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples died last week, after Democratic stall tactics delayed it.

It's possible that could return as an amendment to the clergy bill.

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