Thursday, November 19, 2009

Marriage Illegal in Texas: Four Year Lag in News Story

You might have seen the news this week that Texas seems to have made marriage illegal. Not just same-sex marriage, but all marriage. It's been beating around the Internet for a few days, here's today's McClatchy story on it:
AUSTIN — Texans: Are you really married?

Maybe not.

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

She calls it a "massive mistake" and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.

"You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says," said Radnofsky, who will be at Texas Christian University today as part of a five-city tour to kick off her campaign. Texas' gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages

Now they're looking around like, duh, how'd this happen?

Here's a little-mentioned post from a blog called Vigilance, posted back in October, 2005.
Will Texas Vote to Prohibit Marriage Altogether?

Oh, this is great. Down in Texas there's nothing that worries them more than two guys or two girls getting married. So, like some other states, they proposed a law against gay marriages.

Except they didn't really look at how they worded this thing. So now, the people of Texas will vote on a new law. The referendum ballot says you're voting for or against:
"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."

Let's walk through that:
a. marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman
b. this state or a political subdivision of this state [is prohibited] from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

In other words, the state cannot recognize the institution of marriage that it just defined.

This web site [ note 2009: the site is now dead ] has a quote from a Texas lawyer saying, "I'm gonna get rich as a result of this." (It is a terrific, shrill web site, go see it -- it's one of a kind, trust me.)

Yeah, a law that defines marriage and then prohibits it. That'll protect the institution, good going.

It is painful for me to say I told you so. Very painful, heeheehee.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see a problem with the current wording. The law defines "marriage," and then says that nothing can be created that is identical or similar to "marriage."

Suppose the state said that sugar is defined as a substance that comes from sugar cane. That's the definition of sugar. And then it goes on to say that they won't recognize anything identical to, or similar to, sugar. There's no problem with that because sugar is already defined. Even if someone created a laboratory sugar that was sugar's absolute twin, it still couldn't be called "sugar" because "sugar" has already been defined.

And even if some people want to argue that it's not clear -- it's easily fixable with a simple law. And even if a referendum were to take place on that fix, it would pass through without any hitch.

It's a silly non issue.

November 19, 2009 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Not to change the subject, but:

Tampa is considering adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination ordinance. This is what the Florida Family Association has to say:

""This ordinance will give lawful protection to cross dressing males to patronize women's restrooms," the Florida Family Association said in a statement. "And men dressed as women or women who perceive themselves as men can also use men's restrooms." Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council, blasted the city council's move in an e-mail to his membership, suggesting the protections would allow "sexual predators" to go into public restrooms designated for the opposite sex."

Sound familiar?

Almost makes one think these people have some sort of national coordinating organization.


November 19, 2009 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The National Coordinating Organization is known as the Republican Party!

One of its adherents here in Mongtomery County exposed himself at a County Council meeting last year when he rose up, gave the Nazi salute, and shouted "Heil Hitler". The CRC/CRGers ooohed and aaahed with girlish giggles and admiration at his intelligent statement.

And his audacious boldness has been much in evidence at the recent TEA BAGGER movement rallies, as well, especially the most recent where prominent Republican members of Congress smiled upon and led the cheers of the rabble.

November 19, 2009 1:05 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

It is painful for me to say I told you so. Very painful, heeheehee.

This shows an incredible lack of maturity...

November 19, 2009 11:51 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

This shows an incredible lack of maturity...

I like to think of it as "youthfulness," Orin.


November 20, 2009 6:55 AM  

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