Main | Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Did Texas Ban ALL Marriages?

Anti-gay legislators in Texas have an egg on their faces today as others realize that the 2005 ban on same-sex marriages actually bans ALL marriages, depending on who is reading the law's fine print. According to Texas Attorney General candidate Barbara Radnofsky, it does.
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 Texas Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by Texas voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the trouble-making 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.
The anti-gay side says the law is fine as written. Last month a Texas judge ruled that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional because it doesn't allow for gay divorce.

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