Lawmakers in Texas are trying another route to keep same-sex marriage illegal.
Under a new bill filed Wednesday, salaries would be suspended for any state or local government employees who issue a marriage license to same-sex couples, reported The Texas Tribune.
A federal judge in San Antonio found the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, although he immediately issued a stay on the ruling.
Arguments begin Friday on the case in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
State Rep. Cecil Bell, (R-Magnolia), the lawmaker who filed the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, said the bill was intended to prevent the federal government from imposing moral standards on Texans.
The proposed measure would prohibit taxes or public funds from being used to recognize same-sex marriage.
Under the proposed measure, state courts would also be required to dismiss legal challenges of the bill and award legal costs and attorney fees to defendants.
Bell’s bill cites the 11th Amendment, which grants sovereign immunity to states, to prohibit Texas from being sued over the proposed legislation, if it’s signed into law — regardless of contradictory federal rulings.
“It is my belief and expectation that our courts should not be tied up in that matter,” Bell said.
However, a legislative expert with a Texas LGBT civil rights group said the bill ignores previous court rulings on state sovereignty.
“This bill is retreading very well-established precedent here,” said Daniel Williams, of Equality Texas. “In 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Texas v. White that no, Texas does may not ignore federal law whenever it wants.”
He said the measure goes even further by prescribing punishment for state employees who follow the federal law.
Texas is one of just 14 U.S. states that prohibit same-sex marriage after appellate courts across the country have rejected state bans as unconstitutional.