I try to keep these types of emails to an absolute minimum, but when faced with an issue that is so important to all of us, my fingers start to tap, and I start to pull names from my address book – so I’ll apologize in advance for this slight intrusion into your inbox.
Having said that. Have you voted yet?
Just in case you have been doing a Rip Van Winkle, there is an election going on right now to amend the Texas Constitution – nine times! One of those amendments – Constitutional Amendment (Proposition) No. 2 – aims to write extremely vague language into the Constitution that would prevent the state (or any county, city, college district or independent school district) from recognizing anything that is identical or similar to marriage (which has been suggested could include marriage itself).
Read this for yourself. Here is the ballot language:
“The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
Here is the text of HJR 6 that contains the language that will be added to the Texas Constitution (Article I: Bill of Rights):
“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.”
This may appear to be reasonable language, but the Texas Legislature left out some key word modifiers that would have limited this amendment only to people in same-gender relationships, rather than everyone in the state. Other states got the language right – like Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
One of the major consequences of this amendment would be removal of the option of civil unions for people in same-gender relationships, something that most reasonable Texans support, including President George W. Bush who is on record as saying, ”I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement” (New York Times, 10/26/2004).
This amendment is about removing any option for people who either choose not to get married, or are unable to get married, to have any part of their relationships recognized. The language is so vague, that it will be challenged in the Texas Courts. In fact, Texas Supreme Court Justice, Nathan Hect recently was quoted as saying that when a justice is “construing the Constitution or statute, you’re stuck with what’s there. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t. If you can’t do that, if you can’t stay true to the statute or the Constitution, then you’re violating your oath and you have no business being there” (Austin American Statesman, 10/6/2005).
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice and current Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott is of the opinion that “when interpreting our state Constitution, we rely heavily on its literal text and are to give effect to its plain language” (Republican Party of Texas v. Dietz, 940 S.W. 2nd 86, 89 (Tex. 1997)).
This is bad language, and the effects will be much worse than the original intentions of the resolution. It has already been suggested that it only takes one person to object to the state issuing a marriage license for it to end up in a court, and it only takes one judge to agree that the state can’t recognize marriage based on the langauge in the Texas Constitution.
Simply put, the legislature got it wrong on this one, and the only way to make it right is to vote against this amendment. Tell to your legislators that you expect them to get it right, and while they are there, tell them to focus on what is truly important – school finance, property tax reform; instead of sexy cheerleading, dutch ovens (the new state cooking implement) and chuckwagons (the new state vehicle).
Join other fair-minded Texans from across the state in voting against this amendment, and send a strong message to supporters of this amendment, like the Klu Klux Klan and others, that Texas is not the place for intolerance, discrimination or bigotry. Please visit the Texans United or Save Texas Marriage website for more reasons to vote against this amendment, or to find your nearest polling place.
Remember, early voting is available this week (Monday to Wednesday: 8am to 5pm; Thursday & Friday: 7am to 7pm) and Election Day is Tuesday, November 8 (polls open from 7am to 7pm).