Following intense pressure from the Republican Party of Texas and conservative activists, the Texas House will not be voting on a controversial resolution to honor gay activists.
The chamber was set to consider another resolution honoring Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano for making a “lasting, positive difference through their advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Before the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage throughout the country, Holmes and Phariss unsuccessfully sued the state of Texas to allow gay marriage. Phariss also unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat against State Sen. Angela Paxton (R–Frisco).
House Resolution 85 by Democrat State Rep. Mihaela Plesa (Plano) would honor the two men for “an unyielding commitment to the advancement of human rights and the LGBTQ+ community,” adding that they have “earned the admiration and appreciation of innumerable people.”
The resolution was placed on Thursday’s calendar along with more than 100 other resolutions after being approved by the House Resolutions Committee. The committee is chaired by Democrat State Rep. Bobby Guerra (Mission), whom House Speaker Dade Phelan appointed to the position.
Five Republicans on the committee approved the resolution’s placement on the calendar, including State Reps. Stan Gerdes (Smithville), Hugh Shine (Temple), Lynn Stucky (Sanger), Kronda Thimesch (Lewisville), and Texas Freedom Caucus member Gary Gates (Richmond).
Other Republicans began to announce they would vote against the entire package of resolutions, including State Reps. Tony Tinderholt (Arlington), Bryan Slaton (Royse City), Matt Schaefer (Tyler), Nate Schatzline (Fort Worth), Brian Harrison (Midlothian), and Steve Toth (The Woodlands).
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Texas distributed a letter to the House Republican Caucus calling on members to oppose the calendar if the LGBT resolution was left in. The letter was signed by Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi, Vice Chair Dana Myers, National Committeeman Robin Armstrong, and 48 members of the SREC.
Just minutes before the House gaveled in, however, Plesa announced she would withdraw the resolution from the calendar, citing opposition from “a handful of disruptive and unproductive members.”
This was the second time this month the House was set to honor pro-LGBTQ activists. Last week, the House unanimously voted for a package of nearly 200 resolutions that included a retroactive commemoration of February 14, 2023, as LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce Day at the Texas Capitol.
“While we are concerned it was ever passed out of committee in the first place, we are happy it was pulled,” Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi told Texas Scorecard. “We certainly hope it is not put back on the calendar like the February 14 LGBT resolution.”
After voting to approve the bills, 56 members later stated their opposition to the resolution in journal statements—a way of stating opposition to the item without actually voting against it or affecting its passage.