Texas Censures Republican Rep Over Same-Sex Marriage Vote
The Republican Party in the nation’s largest red state has urged a sitting Republican congressman not to seek another term in office in 2024, because he cast two votes to redefine marriage. The elected official responded to his constituents with a vulgar Spanish phrase, and the national Republican Party machinery immediately signaled its support for his reelection.
In the latest in a growing national backlash against Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage, the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) overwhelmingly voted to censure U.S. Congressman Tony Gonzales on Saturday. The resolution makes clear that the state GOP may endorse a primary challenger and will offer Gonzales “no financial or other support” beyond any bare minimum required by law.
“Congressman Tony Gonzales is discouraged from participating in the 2024 Republican Party Primary,” said the censure resolution, which passed the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC), 57-5. “If Congressman Gonzales files an application to run for any public office in the 2024 Republican Party Primary, the SREC shall be authorized to spend up to twelve percent (12%) of the Party’s general fund on voter education in the state of Texas, by republishing this censure resolution” and distributing the anti-Gonzales motion to the media.
The censure resolution of Gonzales follows the party’s Rule 44, which allows members to rebuke any elected official for at least three violations of party discipline in any two-year period. The RPT cited five issues with Gonzales — two of which cited his votes to pass the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. Gonzales was one of just 39 House Republicans who voted twice for H.R. 8404, which imposed a top-down, national redefinition of marriage on all 50 states, compelling all to legally recognize same-sex marriage. That violates the Republican Party of Texas’s platform, which endorses “the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman” and declares “[h]omosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.”
The resolution also cited the fact that Gonzales, whose district includes the southern border area of San Antonio, voted against enhanced border security during the worst immigration crisis in U.S. history, as well as his votes in favor of a gun control measure and his opposition to a new rules package that allows members to more easily curtail excess spending.
“Rep. Tony Gonzales shouldn’t be surprised that grassroots Republicans in Texas voted to censure him. When you go rogue and vote against your own party on bedrock issues like the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman, you can’t be surprised when it comes back to bite you,” Jonathan Saenz, president and attorney for Texas Values Action, told The Washington Stand.
Saenz anticipated Gonzales’s defection on core issues affecting such primary, pre-political institutions as the family. “Texas Values Action stands for faith, family, and freedom. Our position is support for the biblical definition of marriage,” Saenz told TWS. “We didn’t endorse Rep. Gonzales when he ran for office, because we weren’t confident that he would be solid on our core issues. It looks like we were right.”
Rep. Tony Gonzales Responds with Vulgarity
Gonzales has responded aggressively to the censure, using a vulgar Spanish slang term before inexplicably invoking his Hispanic ethnicity. “¡No mames RPT! Puro pedo. #GrowingUpMexicanAmerican.” The phrase translates roughly to, “No way, RPT! This is [bovine excrement].” Gonzales has a history of hurling “leftist smears” against his political opponents, said Texans for Sane Borders, a grassroots immigration restriction organization that supported the censure. Gonzales’ campaign spokesman, Evan Albertson, greeted the censure by telling the state party to “follow [Gonzales’] lead and do some actual work.”
The censure motion noted that party officials tried to contact Gonzales’ office seven times, followed by an email. Gonzales’ office also signed for three certified letters, but never responded to his constituents.
The second-term congressman had attempted to deflect the party’s impending censure on Thursday by pointing to all the votes he took that did not violate the GOP’s moral and political beliefs. “The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party,” he said during a press conference in San Antonio on Thursday. He then doubled down on his support for gun control, vowing, “I would vote twice on it if I could.”
Gonzales tried to change the subject, tweeting his support for the Parents Bill of Rights.
National GOP Backs Gonzales against Texas Party Censure
The national Republican Party immediately acted to step on the Lone Star State’s grassroots uprising. “Congressman Gonzales is a valued member of the House majority, and we look forward to supporting his re-election,” said National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesperson Delanie Bomar.
Yet Gonzales’s positions also conflict with the national GOP’s professed position on the issue of marriage. The most recent Republican Party platform, readopted in 2020, states in part:
“Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court's lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a ‘judicial Putsch’ — full of ‘silly extravagances’ — that reduced ‘the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.’ In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
If the party condemns Obergefell, it also condemns votes to “codify” Obergefell, the putative aim of the Respect for Marriage Act.
“The national Republican Party Platform outlines clear positions on these issues. Republican lawmakers should be aware that a vote to undermine these principles will not go unnoticed,” FRC Action Vice President Brent Keilen told TWS. “Marriage, family, the well-being of children, and religious liberty remain important issues to the GOP’s voter base. A vote on legislation championed by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi last year won’t change that.”
Legacy Media Bury the Reason for the Resolution
The party rebuke follows a censure motion that passed the Medina County GOP on February 7. Yet the legacy media missed the marriage issue or buried its significance. “Texas GOP censures U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales over party-splitting votes in Congress,” said the liberal Texas Tribune.
“GOP censures Texan for gun vote,” said the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Associated Press worked the school shooting in Uvalde — which had nothing to do with the censure — into the opening of its article but did not mention marriage until the third paragraph.
The motivation seems important, as the party has invoked Rule 44, only on the rarest of occasions. The party deployed the rule against State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) in 2018. “As chairman of the State Affairs Committee, he repeatedly killed high-profile conservative legislation such as sanctuary cities bans, pro-life bills, ending automatic union dues collection, and legislation to keep men out of women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms,” reported the Texas Scorecard. He chose not to seek reelection.
National Backlash against Republicans Who Vote to redefine Marriage
Gonzales is the latest in a line of Republican figures to face censure for his vote on H.R. 8404. Late last week, the 16th county GOP censured Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) for her support of same-sex marriage. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) faces a possible statewide censure from the North Carolina Republican Party, which would deny him access to state funding, Reuters news agency reported late last week. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor seemingly defending her vote to redefine marriage on biblical grounds, has been censured. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) have also been censured by their state parties.
The growing momentum indicates the issue is far from settled.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.