With Anti-Gay Marriage Resolution, Dan Patrick Accepts Defeat

Gay marriage rally in Houston, Texas.
Gay marriage rally in Houston, Texas.

Did you know that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Senate Republicans, oppose gay marriage? If you didn’t know before, you do now. There’s proof: It’s called Senate Resolution 1028, offered by state Sen. Kelly Hancock. Here’s part of it:

WHEREAS, Traditional marriage is the bedrock institution

of both our society and the success Texas has been blessed to

experience since our admission as the 28th state within these

United States of America; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas, 84th

Legislature, Regular Session, hereby affirm the preservation of

the present definition of marriage as being the legal union of

one man and one woman as husband and wife and pledge to uphold and

defend this principle that is so dearly held by Texans far and wide.

The resolution was written, introduced and passed last night, circumventing the normal procedure for bringing up bills and resolutions. It’s signed by every GOP senator, and Patrick too.

The resolution has no significance and no effect—it carries exactly as much weight as Senate Resolution 997, recognizing March 26, 2015 as John Wayne Day. The House GOP caucus did the same thing a few weeks ago after House Bill 4105 died, except theirs was only a letter. It’s the kind of thing people do when they’re losing, and they know that they’re losing and they want to show somebody that they tried.

They’re losing because it seems almost a certainty that gay marriage is coming to Texas soon, and they’re losing because polls show the public is changing its mind on the issue. They’re losing because all of the anti-LGBT bills carried died this session.

But Patrick is also losing here. He and conservatives like to blame the House for failing to pass socially conservative bills, particularly ones to do with abortion and gay rights. But he doesn’t have a lot of success to show in this department either. In recent days, he’s tried to inject language from dead House bills and initiatives into Senate bills. All of them have failed.

When state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) attempted to add an amendment to a bill that mirrored an amendment state Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) once hoped to add to a House bill, establishing the right of religiously affiliated child welfare agencies to discriminate against gay couples, it was easily knocked down on a point of order. There was talk on the Senate floor last night that language from a dead House bill that would prohibit insurance plans from covering abortions would be added to another of Campbell’s bills, but it never came up.

One fight in particular precipitated last night’s resolution. State Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) added the anti-gay marriage language from HB 4105 into a totally innocuous bill by state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston).

When the language was discovered—it had been effectively hidden—it caused an uproar. Coleman pledged to kill his own bill if the language stayed in.

In last night’s “debate” over the resolution, Lucio, a passionate pro-life Catholic, rose to give a personal speech about his own convictions. “From our bibles, we learn of one man and one woman,” he said. “For me, nothing is more sacred than our biblical teachings.” The institution of marriage came from Jesus himself, and cheapening it was sacrilege. “By now, everybody knows how this senator from the Rio Grande Valley feels,” he told the chamber.

Nonetheless, he’d had a change of heart. He wouldn’t be signing the resolution, and he’d be withdrawing Coleman’s poor bill.

Patrick, who’d been listening to Lucio intently and rocking in his chair, stood to speak. With clasped hands, he told the chamber he’d given Lucio an ultimatum. If he tried to strip the anti-gay language out again, Patrick wouldn’t let the bill come to the floor. But Lucio had made his decision.

So, having been deprived of the chance to approve the strong, consequential language from HB 4105, senators drafted last night’s resolution on the fly. While it was being debated, the text of the resolution hadn’t even been uploaded to the Capitol website. The resolution was approved quickly. The thin document is the only real say-so the Legislature will have on the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer.

It’s a comprehensive flop for the forces who oppose gay marriage. Nonetheless, Patrick told the Senate to buck up. They “should be proud,” he said. “The House decided not to have this debate.” That’s a dig at Speaker Joe Straus, of course. But since Patrick couldn’t get anything consequential out of his own chamber either, who is he pointing fingers at?

Christopher Hooks is a freelance journalist in Austin.

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Published at 3:59 pm CST
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