Texas House OKs letting clergy refuse to marry gay couples

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The state House has preliminarily approved a bill letting clergy members refuse to perform same-sex marriages, further shielding Texas from a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

The measure excuses religious elders from performing weddings that violate their "sincerely held" religious beliefs. It passed 141 to 2 Thursday after easily clearing the Senate last month.

Back by Republicans who control both chambers, the bill is 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 it comes after a more-divisive bill prohibiting government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples died last week amid Democrat stall tactics.

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