Texas Activists: Marriage Equality in N.Y. Bolsters Local Efforts
The passage of New York’s marriage equality bill certainly boosted the morale of Texas advocates, but others caution there’s no obvious or easy path to nuptials for same-sex couples here.
"The bill in New York really impacted Texas," said Michael Diviesti of GetEQUAL. "I was in downtown Dallas the next day for a Stonewall celebration and we had expected 50-60 people and a couple hundred showed up. That energy came from seeing the news the night before."
Unlike New York, Texas has a constitutional amendment outlawing marriages for same-sex couples or anything similar. The actual wording states that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman" and that "this state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
The amendment would require a legislative super-majority to repeal, and experts conclude that makes achieving same-sex unions here much more difficult.
"From a very legal standpoint the New York decision really doesn’t have any impact because we have a constitutional amendment that we don’t recognize out-of-state marriages," explained Dennis Coleman, executive director at Equality Texas. "What (the New York decision) does do is highlight what we don’t have here in Texas."
That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t work to do or reason to celebrate. In fact, buoyed by the New York decision, many Texas communities are planning activities on National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Diviesti is particularly encouraged that many small communities outside of Dallas, Houston and Austin will participate. Events are currently planned in those cities plus San Antonio, Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Huntsville and could be organized in Fort Worth, Lubbock, Odessa, San Angelo and elsewhere.
"It’s going to be a marriage counter-action where couples are going to go to their county clerk’s office and request to be married," said Diviesti. That will be followed by marriage equality marches around the state on Oct. 15.