Texas Same-Sex Marriage Bills Face Uphill Battle in Legislature

Texas same-sex marriage Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com[/caption]

Democratic Texas state lawmakers have filed two bills aimed at recognizing the relationships of same-sex couples. The pieces of legislation come in after three resolutions were filed that would attempt to repeal the 2005 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between only a man and a woman.

The first bill, SB 480, was filed by Democratic State Senator Juan Hinojosa on February 11. It was then assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

The bill would allow for the establishment of civil unions and would grant same-gender couples the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities under the law as are granted to spouses in a marriage. Senator Hinojosa said in a press release:

“The creation of civil unions in Texas is critical for same-gender couples so they can be afforded the same benefits and protections that married couples enjoy.  Providing legal protections, including property rights, homestead rights, child custody and support, adoption, group insurance for state employees, and worker compensation benefits, would treat same-gender couples with the dignity and respect they deserve as well as allow them the benefits to take care of their families.”

The second bill, HB 1300, was filed in the House by Democratic State Representative Lon Burnam on February 14, where it would then be assigned to the House Committee of State Affairs.

The bill would allow for a marriage between two persons of the same-sex and would repeal the statutory prohibition against the recognition of a civil union or similar relationship entered into in another state between two persons of the same-sex. Representative Burnam said this in a press release.

“I have been married for 33 years, and it has been the greatest and most rewarding experience of my life. It is past time for our state to get right on this issue and fulfill the promise of individual freedom that is supposed to be the birthright of every Texan.”

Unfortunately for gay marriage advocates, the bills face an impossible battle.

Both bills face their respective committees, which are both very likely to oppose and kill the bills, due to the committees being Republican-controlled and, based on member voting records, very partisan.

Even if the bills were to somehow pass the Legislature and receive the signature of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who strongly opposes gay marriage, the bills would only be able to take effect after the three resolutions repealing the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman pass.

The resolutions, titled SJR 29, HJR 77 and HJR 78, similarly face very poor chances of passing.

Adding to the obstacles, the Texas Faith and Family Rally met in opposition to same-sex marriage in front of the State Capitol on March 26 in response to the Supreme Court hearing arguments for and against gay marriage. It was at this rally where State Republican leaders, like Governor Rick Perry, Senator Donna Campbell, and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst promised to oppose efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

In a statement during the rally, Senator Donna Campbell said:

“They want to redefine marriage between a natural man and natural woman the same way the want to redefine the Constitution. It’s just not going to stand with me.”

The event was sponsored by both pro-family values groups Texas Values and Concerned Women for America Texas.

The bills currently remain in committee and have yet to be scheduled for a hearing.