AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Senate has voted overwhelmingly to allow clergy members to refuse performing marriages that violate their religious beliefs.
Monday's vote comes as top Republicans move to further shield Texas from a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.
The bill requires a final Senate vote before heading to the state House.
Democrats quickly pointed out that existing constitutional guarantees separating church and state already allow houses of worship to set their own religious policies regarding marriage ceremonies.
The measure raises some of the same issues as "religious objections" proposals that sparked strong criticism nationally after being approved in Indiana and Arkansas.
The Texas proposal is less divisive, largely restating existing law.
Still, it follows the nation's high court hearing arguments about the constitutionality of gay marriage.