OUT AND ABOUT: Language in amendment bans straight marriage
Is marriage legal in Texas? ‘
According to Houston lawyer and Democratic Texas attorney general candidate Barbara Radnofsky, it is not.
In 2005, an overwhelming majority of the Texas Legislature approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution.
The amendment reads:’
‘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.’
The trouble here is the second half of the amendment starting with ‘and prohibiting the state.’ Technically speaking, the ‘and’ creates two separate points which causes the amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, but also to prohibit all marriages simultaneously.
According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the second half was designed to be broad to prevent civil unions between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, but due to poor phrasing, the amendment has effectively outlawed marriage in the state.
While Abbott’s intentions are obvious in context, legal documents are not read based upon the intentions of their authors.
Radnofsky said the wording was a ‘massive mistake’ in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article. Even students found trouble with the wording.
‘The way it’s written, no one can get married. I don’t know how someone could miss it; it jumps out at you,’ political science major Mike Krupp said.
Some students think that the law might not change.
‘Any marriage ban is unconstitutional, gay or straight, but the Supreme Court won’t touch it because it’s too volatile,’ pre-law student Saira Siddiqi said.
If the state judiciary chooses to enforce the ban, the legal and financial ramifications would be staggering.
‘ That aside, the marriage ban’s existence has far-reaching implications for the LGBT community.
In the likely event that the law is ignored, it could set a legal precedent that would ensure marriage equality. If the amendment were overturned, it would establish a precedent against limiting marriage.
The only conceivable way that Texans could deny gays and lesbians the right to marry would be to enforce the marriage ban, which would ironically still be a form of marriage equality since no one could marry.’
By allowing the passage of this amendment in its current form, Abbott may actually be one of the most prolific figures for marriage equality in history. ‘