Texas LGBT advocates hope to remove a statewide ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.
With 21 states approving same-sex marriages, partnerships and/or civil unions, Texas is still behind in current affairs.
Introducing the latest bill on Valentine’s Day, Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) hopes to repeal Texas’ Defense of Marriage Act. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), have already issued joint resolutions.
“What better time to start to repeal the ban on same-sex civil unions and marriage than the present,” asks Coleman . “It’s not whether [the repeal]happens, it’s when it happens.” Coleman has introduced a bill at every legislative session every year since the ban was adopted in 2005.
They hope the current national awareness of marriage equality changes the tide.
“Whether it takes the form of a domestic partnership registry or civil unions or something else, we are going to start working here in the Legislature to build capacity in this body so that we will have success, whether it’s this session or a future session,” says Anchia.
The bill has a long road ahead. For approval, the House and the Senate need two-thirds majority vote to be considered.
“If enacted, [the latest bill]would provide some important legal protections for same-gender couples, including property rights, homestead rights, child custody and support, adoption, intestate succession, probate transfers, group insurance for state employees, and workers’ compensation benefits,” according to a statement made by Equality Texas, a marriage equality advocacy organization.
Mostly dominated by conservative Republicans, it may be difficult to pass the legislation considering the state’s more traditional values regarding marriage. According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 36 percent of Texans support marriage equality while 33 percent support civil unions.
“People are entitled to it if they want to have the discussion, but it is not going to happen,” says the President of the Conservative group Texas Values, Jonathan Saenz. “The numbers aren’t there in the [Texas] House or the Senate.”
In the past, lawmakers passed on voter ID, parental notification and the Defense of Marriage Act before making any progress. Lawmakers are also attempting to approve legislation concerning medical marijuana legalization, and an expansion of a gambling and a smoking ban.