Marriage equality advocates in Texas begin long haul to change state's laws
Nearly eight years after Texans voted to ban gay marriage and civil unions, gay-rights advocates are pushing to roll back those laws with a handful of legislation — and a lot of patience. Hoping to build on national momentum as well as signs of growing support in Texas, advocates say it’s a good time to start work on repealing the ban. But as with any big initiative in Texas, supporters recognize that such a game-changing measure is unlikely to pass immediately — particularly in a Legislature dominated by conservative Republicans who are not eager to join 21 other states that allow same-sex marriages, partnerships or civil unions. “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,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas. Legislation offered by Anchia and Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, would repeal a section of the Texas Constitution that defines marriage as being the “union of one man and one woman” and prohibits “creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage,” including civil unions. Voters approved the provision overwhelmingly in a 2005 statewide election. Fort Worth Democratic Rep. Lon Burnam introduced a bill on Valentine’s Day that would repeal the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, added to the Texas Family Code by lawmakers in 2003, and let Texas recognize unions created in other states.