Texas GOP Censures Congressman Over Supporting Marriage Equality

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales

The Texas Republican Party has censured U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales over his support for marriage equality and gun control.

The State Republican Executive Committee Saturday voted 57-5 to censure the GOP congressman from south Texas, The Texas Tribune reports. One member abstained.

The censure allows the party to lift a rule against campaigning in intraparty races, so if Gonzales runs for reelection in 2024 and is challenged in the Republican primary, the party could support a challenger.

Gonzales, who represents the 23rd Congressional District in south Texas, was the only Republican from the state to vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act last year. The act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, writes marriage equality into federal law, protecting it in case the Supreme Court overturns the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that established equal marriage rights nationwide.

He also voted in favor of a gun control package after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, which is in his district. The package, passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by Biden, expands background checks for gun purchases, tightens restrictions on purchases by those with a history of domestic violence, and provides funding for mental health programs.

Texas Republicans have objected to other positions taken by Gonzales as well, such as “his vote against the House rules package in January and his opposition to a border security bill being pushed by fellow Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Austin,” the Tribune reports. Gonzales contends that Roy’s bill would essentially end the possibility of asylum, something Roy denies.

Gonzales did not attend the party meeting, which took place in Austin. Instead, “he talked to veterans, visited with Border Patrol agents, and met constituents,” spokesperson Sarah Young said in a statement to the Associated Press. “The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work.” Gonzales had said earlier that almost all of his votes have been along the GOP line.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has expressed continued support for Gonzales. “Congressman Gonzales is a valued member of the House majority, and we look forward to supporting his re-election,” said a statement from NRCC spokesperson Delanie Bomar to the Tribune.

Gonzales was first elected to the U.S. House in 2020, when he defeated gay Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones for the open seat after moderate Republican Will Hurd retired. He was reelected last year in a race against Democrat John Lira.

The last time the Texas Republicans approved a censure was in 2018, when they took the action against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who had opposed an anti-transgender “bathroom bill.”

The Texas Republican Party is known for its anti-LGBTQ+ and generally far-right stances. It adopted a platform last year that called homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and opposed “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”

A gay Republican state legislator in Missouri may be censured by the local party because of his support for marriage equality. The Jackson County Republican Committee decided this week that censuring Rep. Chris Sander was outside its responsibilities, but the group is forming a separate committee to consider censuring him at some point.