May 21, 2005 Contact: Heath Riddles
For Immediate Release 512.474.5475
AUSTIN, TX- A historically dangerous and discriminatory constitutional amendment is headed to Texas voters. The Anti-Gay Texas Marriage Amendment (HJR 6) passed the Texas Senate this afernoon. The amendment was approved by a vote of 21 to 8, narrowly meeting the two-thirds majority required.
Upon approval by the Senate, the amendment is now cleared to appear on a statewide ballot this November. This will mark the first time in history that a minority group would be singled out in the Texas Constitution to be denied equal treatment. Constitutions are historically treated as sacred documents, designed to preserve rights and ensure equality for all.
Randall Ellis, Executive Director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, says the amendment is dangerous. "This amendment is devastating to thousands of Texas families, gay and straight alike," Ellis said. "Domestic partner benefits, powers of attorney, and even common law marriage will be called into question by this amendment. These are consequences that are supposedly unintended, according to the amendment's authors. But this is clearly a discriminatory act, designed to strike at our community at its fundamental level: our families. The Legislature is obviously willing to sacrifice all Texas families for this unjust agenda of intolerance and discrimination."
Marriage affords hundreds of legal rights, responsibilities and obligations, including the ability to visit a spouse in the hospital, social security benefits, second parent adoptions and many more. These are denied to thousands of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples across Texas, many of them raising families of their own.
This amendment would, in effect, solidify LGBT Texans' status as second-class citizens.
Senators Barrientos, Ellis, Hinojosa, Shapleigh, Van de Putte, West, Whitmire and Zaffirini voted against the Anti-Gay Texas Marriage Amendment.
House Joint Resolution 6 reads as follows:
A JOINT RESOLUTION
proposing a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:
Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
The Texas Marriage Amendments would deny gay and lesbian Texans hundreds of rights they need to protect their families from harm, like the right to make health care decisions for their partner, the right to visit their partner in the hospital, even the right to be buried beside their loved one. Our Constitution is for protecting our most basic and important rights. It should never be used in a way that hurts our fellow Texans. Although Texans may disagree about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, those disagreements do not belong in our Constitution.
Voters in the State of Texas, I urge you to vote NO on HJR 6 when it comes up for vote on November 8th. This particular amendment will not only write dsicrimination into the State Constitution, not only create a second class of citizens and lump all gays and lesbians into it, but will also infringe upon the rights of heterosexual/straight people. ALL civil unions (which may, potentially, include common law marriage*) will be abolished, statewide, for both gays, AND straights. Not only does this amendment make it legally okay to discriminate against homosexuals - setting a dangerous precedent - but it also creates long-lasting and permenant legal ramifications for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. I urge you. Vote NO on HJR6 when it comes to ballot, this fall.
For more information, please see http://soc.lgrl.org/
The Texas Marriage Amendments would put unequal treatment for gay and lesbian Texans into our Constitution. They would deny thousands of Texas families access to health care, fair inheritance and survivor rights, and the ability to make medical decisions for loved ones.
Our Constitution is designed to protect people, not hurt them. But that's just what these amendments would do. Although Texans may disagree about social issues such as marriage, those disagreements do not belong in our Constitution.
Q: I don't support same-sex marriage/I'm not sure about same-sex marriage/Marriage is between a man and a woman.
A: Many people have just begun to think about how they feel about the issue of marriage for gay and lesbian couples, but changing the Constitution is not the way to settle the debate over marriage, particularly when it means real people would get hurt. We may disagree or be unsure about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, but we can all agree that our Constitution is no place for unequal treatment for one group of our citizens. You do not have to approve of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples to vote no.
Q: Will my church have to perform gay weddings if the Texas Marriage Amendment is defeated?
A: As Americans, we believe in the separation of church and state. No church or religion has ever been required to perform a ceremony or sacrament outside its tradition. Every faith has different standards for who they will marry, and a 'No' vote will not change this in any way.
Q: If we don't draw the line now, where and when will we draw it? What will we allow next?
A: A 'No' vote does not change marriage in Texas. Marriage will remain a committed relationship between two unrelated, otherwise-unmarried adults, who agree to share love, commitment and responsibility.
Q: I think we should leave marriage alone and just push for civil unions.
A: Civil unions, even at their best, do not provide the same protections as marriage. And we can't assume the Legislature will ever pass civil unions. If you support extending any rights to gay and lesbian couples, you should know that this amendment could foreclose any future hope for civil unions, too. We shouldn't put unequal treatment of gays and lesbians into our Constitution, especially without any assurance that their rights will be protected by future legislation.
Q: Can't gays and lesbians get everything they need from legal contracts?
A: No. There is no truth to the claim that gay and lesbian Texans can get all of the benefits and protections of marriage from contracts. There are some cases when legal contracts have been effective at protecting families in times of crisis, but even the most ironclad documents don't work in every case. Gay and lesbian Texans should not be treated unequally by having to seek out costly and complicated legal protections for their families.
Q: Gay people can't marry in Texas now, so if this passes it doesn't really change anything right?
A: A 'Yes' vote on the Texas Marriage Amendment does change the Texas Constitution - both the letter of the Constitution and the spirit of the Constitution - to say that it is OK to treat gay and lesbian Texans unequally. That is a marked departure from the way our Constitution is now. Voting yes does nothing to protect families or marriage in Texas. What it does do is hurt real Texas families by denying gay and lesbian Texans access to important family protections like health care, inheritance rights and the ability to make life-saving medical decisions.
Q: Don't we need to put this in the Constitution to prevent activist judges from making gay marriage legal?
A: Changing the Constitution to treat Texans unequally isn't the best way to resolve the debate on this issue. When an issue divides Texans, as this one does, it's better to take the time to examine all the consequences, rather than act rashly in a way that hurts people. Voting 'No' on the Texas Marriage Amendment will not make marriage for gay and lesbian couples legal, it will only keep unequal treatment out of the Constitution.
Fact Sheet on HJR 6
The Anti-Gay Texas Marriage Amendment
Bill Number: House Joint Resolution 6
Unofficial Name: Anti-Gay Texas Marriage Amendment
Bill Author: Representative Warren Chisum (R-Pampa)
Bill Sponsor: Senator Todd Staples is the Senate sponsor of HJR 6.
Joint Authors: Representatives Chuck Hopson, Charlie Howard, and Jim McReynolds
Co-Authors: Representatives Allen (Ray), Berman, Bohac, Bonnen, Branch, Brown (Betty), Callegari, Campbell, Casteel, Cook (Byron), Cook (Robby), Crabb, Davis (John), Delisi, Denny, Driver, Eissler, Flynn, Gattis, Geren, Goodman, Hamilton, Hardcastle, Harper-Brown, Hegar, Hope, Hughes, Isett, Jackson (jim) Jones (Delwin), Keffer (Jim), King (Phil), Kolkhosrt, Krusee, Laubenberg, Nixon, Orr, Otto, Paxton, Smith (Todd), Smith (Wayne), Solomons, Talton, Taylor, Truitt, van Arsdale, West (George), Zedler
Short description: HJR 6 would write unequal treatment for gay and lesbian Texans into our Constitution by banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
Committee Assignment: House Committee on State Affairs
The Texas Marriage Amendment hurts Texas families. It would deny thousands of families access to healthcare, fair inheritance and survivor rights, and the ability to make life-saving medical decisions for loved ones.
Our Constitution should be used to protect people, not hurt them. But that is just what the Texas Marriage Amendment would do. Our Constitution is for protecting our most basic and important rights. It should never be used to settle partisan, religious or ideological disputes. There is no question that many Texans disagree about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, but those disagreements do not belong in our Constitution.
Changing the Constitution is never simple. There are over 1000 protections, rights and responsibilities that go along with civil marriage. Many, like immigration rights and veterans death benefits, cannot be covered by contracts or legal planning. The Texas Marriage Amendment would permanently deny access to each of these family protections to gay and lesbian couples and their families.
This bill DOES NOT "reinforce" heterosexual marriages. The typical reason legislators give for supporting this legislation is that it reinforces traditional marriages. However, they have provided no reasoning to support the idea that barring same-sex marriages in any way contributes positively to heterosexual marriages, or that recognition of same-sex marriages threatens existing opposite-sex marriages. It seems the real motivation behind such legislation is homophobia.
This is a dangerous amendment, ladies and gentlemen, that opens up our state for major legal ramifications in the future - epsecially where discrimination is concerned. People may even be able to successfully argue that since it is constitutionally okay for the state to discriminate against a group of people (or even individuals within that group), it is legally okay for an individual to discriminate against the same group of people/individuals within that group.
Please realize, as well, that this amendment does not only affect gay and lesbian Texans, but also straight Texans. Any straight Texan who is currently in a civil union will find that union abolished upon the passing of this amendment, as there is no grandfathering clause built in - nor are there any laws on the record allowing for grandfathering. Plus, by the very definition of the amendment, all those who are in a common-law marriage would potentially find themselves unable to receive the benefits, rights, and priviledges they are currently entitled to, unless they procured a marriage license and had a ceremony, OR obtained expensive legal contracts which may still not guarentee things. Common-law marriage is NOT marriage, it is a "legal status" that is "identical or similar to" marriage.
While there are technically no guarentees anywhere saying that Texans (or - for that matter, any United States Citizen) have the right to marry who they choose, the United States Constitution guarentees us the right to "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." This amendment would take away those inallienable human rights from all homosexuals, and some heterosexuals.
Vote NO on HJR 6, when you go to the polls.
Thank you for your time, and my apologies for the massive cross-post.