AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In the end, there was a meaningless Senate resolution. And then, the months-long Republican-led effort to further shield Texas from gay marriage should the U.S. Supreme Court legalize it was dead.
Every Senate Republican and conservative Democrat Eddie Lucio signed a declaration praising "traditional" marriage. It has no legal effect and the Texas Constitution has banned gay marriage since 2005.
But a bill to bar state, county and local clerks from issuing court-ordered same-sex marriage licenses collapsed without floor votes in either chamber. And a proposal allowing some child welfare agencies to refuse to let gays or same-sex couples adopt children in Texas stalled, too.
So the ceremonial resolution was all the Senate's stalwart social conservatives could muster. Supporters said it was about family values; opponents suggested that the Supreme Court would force Texas to change soon enough.
"I'm not as concerned about being on the wrong side of history as I am being on the wrong side of what I believe," said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate and also signed the resolution.
It sparked, though, rawer emotions than are usually seen in the staid upper chamber. Democratic Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa declared, "What I see is discrimination."
"I do not understand why there is so much dislike and hate for people who are different," said Hinojosa, a McAllen Democrat who has a gay daughter. The resolution's author, North Richland Hills Republican Sen. Kelly Hancock, responded that he was no bigot: "There's no hate here."
When the debate was over, many senators hugged, showing there was no hard feelings. But their words still hung heavily in the air.
Here's the session's final look at what issues had strong weeks — and didn't — in the Texas Legislature.
Execution Drug Supplier Secrecy
The Legislature approved, and Gov. Greg Abbott quietly signed, a law mandating that the identity of Texas' lethal drug suppliers remain confidential from the public and even death row inmates. Drug manufacturers say they won't sell to Texas without confidentiality since they've faced threats from death penalty opponents. Advocates counter that America's busiest death chamber should be as transparent as possible.
Tea party Republicans swept the November elections pledging to muscle a harder-line on immigration through the Legislature. But two bills that would do just that failed without floor votes in either chamber. A repeal of a 2001 law allowing some students in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition rates at Texas' public universities stalled. So did a proposal empowering police to inquire about the immigration status of people they stop, thus enforcing federal immigration policies at the local level. Last summer, Patrick declared, "We must not step back from being bold on the issue." It's a promise he couldn't keep on two of the session's most-watched bills.
WHAT'S STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
A statewide ban on using handheld devices behind the wheel passed the House early but died without a Senate vote amid opposition from Libertarians. So Texas still won't join the 46 other states that already ban it, but that may be a bit of a moot point. Dozens of local ordinances affecting the majority of Texas residents already prohibit texting while driving, having long since beaten the Legislature to the punch.