Texas House Passes Pastor Protection Bill, Gov. Abbott Ready to Sign
Today, the Texas House passed the Pastor Protection Bill, SB 2065, with bipartisan support and without amendments, 141-2, with two Democrats voting against the bill. The bill protects pastors, ministers, clergy and churches from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill has already passed the Texas Senate and after a vote tomorrow that is considered essentially procedural, SB 2065 will be headed to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. Gov. Abbott has stated his support for the bill and his intention to sign the bill.
Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values Action, made the following statement:
"Texas made an important decision today to specifically protect the religious freedom of our pastors and churches that follow their beliefs on marriage. Government at any level should not be allowed to punish our clergy and churches for following their faith on marriage. We are thankful for the pastors, churches and church leaders from all across the state that have led in this effort and have demonstrated the very real threats to religious freedom from those seeking to redefine marriage. We also thank Rep. Scott Sanford and Sen. Craig Estes and leaders in the House and Senate for their hard work in getting this bill passed. Passing the Pastor Protection Bill sends a clear message that Texas respects the religious freedom of those whose foundation is their faith. We look forward to Gov. Abbott signing the bill into law."
Pastors from all over the state came to testify in favor of the bill in both House and Senate committee hearings. Testimony included pastors who have been asked to perform a same-sex ‘marriage’ and Houston 5 pastors who were subpoenaed by the Mayor of Houston for their beliefs related to the issue of marriage. The Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, The Texas Catholic Conference, Texas Pastor Council and many other pastors, including Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Pastor Bob Jones of the Texas Black Clergy Network, Pastor Steve Branson of San Antonio, pastors from the Cowboy Churches, and many others voiced their support for the billl.
In addition to the great leadership shown by bill authors Rep. Scott Sanford and Sen. Craig Estes, we also want to thank the numerous House and Senate sponsors of the bill and House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is to be commended for his effort to ensure the filing and passage of SB 2065 in the Senate. Finally, we are also grateful for the support of Attorney General Ken Paxton.