The Republican Party of Texas voted last weekend to censure U.S. Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio) for bucking the party line on several votes, including voting in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act.
The Texas State Republican Executive Committee voted 57-5 to censure the congressman for the 23rd Congressional District, arguing that his votes against the preferred Republican position show his lack of “loyalty” to Republican values and priorities.
“Congressman Tony Gonzales has demonstrated a pattern of action demonstrably opposed to the Principles of the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Platform and the Legislative Priorities of the Republican Party of Texas,” the resolution reads.
The first reason given for Gonzales’s censure is that he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which enshrines federal and state recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages into law (although individual states do not have to allow such marriages to be performed in their jurisdictions).
The law, which received bipartisan support, was ultimately signed into effect by President Biden in December.
Other instances of the congressman’s votes against the majority of his fellow Republicans include his opposition to a Republican rule package that included several measures — including the ability of a single member to call for a new speaker if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiates or compromises with the Biden administration — that are meant to appeal to House conservatives; his opposition to a border security measure offered by fellow Texas U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-San Antonio); and his vote for a modest gun control measure following a mass shooting that killed 21 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which is located in his congressional district, last year.
The statewide resolution follows passage of a similar censure resolution by the Medina County Republican Party that accuses the congressman of being a “poor representative” of his Republican constituents for defying the values and principles contained in the Republican Party’s official national and state platforms.
That resolution also specifically singles out a vote Gonzales took against a bill seeking to resume construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Gonzales’s support for same-sex nuptials runs counter to the Republican Party of Texas’s official platform, adopted last year, which expresses opposition to any expressions of LGBTQ identity.
While not binding, the platform outlines the party’s priorities with respect to LGBTQ issues, going so far as to call homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice” that can be changed through conversion therapy or “reintegrative therapy.”
The Texas GOP platform opposes any recognition of same-sex relationships, even those legally performed in states with laws allowing same-sex marriage, as valid.
Officially, Texas has both statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in place, but both were nullified by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 striking down such bans.
Should the high court ever reverse its decision, Texas’s bans on allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in state would immediately take effect, but the Respect for Marriage Act would still require the state to recognize same-sex relationships from states that either lack bans or affirmatively allow recognition of such unions.
The state party’s platform also attacks gender dysphoria as a “mental health condition” and opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”
The platform calls for prohibiting individuals under the age of 21 from accessing gender-affirming transition-related treatments, and allowing so-called “de-transitioners” to sue medical providers and therapist who recommended such treatments or affirmed their stated gender identity.
The platform also endorses “the fundamental right of parents to make all decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in all aspects” — except in cases where a parent decides to allow their child to socially transition or pursue gender-affirming care.
The national party platform, approved in 2016 and quickly re-approved without changes in 2020, also speaks out against recognition of same-sex marriage.
By censuring Gonzales, the Republican Party of Texas prevents him from accessing state party funds, in an effort to discourage him not to seek re-election — which all but ensures he will face a primary challenge, and, potentially, a runoff election. Those penalties expire on May 28, 2024, the date of the primary runoff.
The approval of the censure resolution also allows the Texas State Republican Executive Committee to spend a portion of the party’s budget on “voter education” in Gonzales’s district, which includes republishing and informing voters of the censure, reports The Hill.
Speaking to San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT while leading a congressional delegation visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Gonzales largely shrugged off the censure.
“Look, there are people who like you, there are people who don’t like you,” Gonzales said. “I served 20 years in the military. I learned a long time ago you can’t please everyone, nor should you try. You should be firm in who you are, and you should fight for the things you believe in.”
He expressed confidence that he could win re-election in the sprawling congressional district, which stretches east along the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso to Maverick County, and then north to San Antonio and its exurbs.
The district is majority-Latino, but has higher participation rates among white voters, and leans 5 points more Republican at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole.
“At the end of the day, I will roll up my sleeves every single day, and anybody who wishes to challenge me, it’s a fool’s errand,” Gonzales said. “I will run you to the deep end of the pool every single time and drown you, so I welcome it.”
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