Fort Worth Representative Lon Burnam Files Texas' First Post-DOMA Marriage Equality Bill

Categories: Legislature

burnam.jpg
Representative Lon Burnam
Back in February, when the Texas legislature was in session the first time, Representative Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, authored a bill aimed to authorize "a marriage between two persons of the same sex in this state and repealing 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."

It's not surprising that Burnam's bill never got any traction. This was almost five months ago, before the Supreme Court reached a decision in United States v. Windsor and struck down substantial chunks of the Defense of Marriage Act. This is a new, week-old epoch, and on Monday Burnam filed another bill with the same aim as the last one.

This bill's chances of getting any farther than the last one range from insignificant to nonexistent, but Burnam told us he thought it was important to file the legislation anyway.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," he said. "And this is the second step. It's a vehicle to keep talking about what's going on at the national level."

Burnam's bill, which is not a constitutional amendment but rather deals with rights like parenting and property, is the first challenge to Texas's ban on same-sex marriage since the Court ruled on DOMA and California's Proposition 8, but others are already following suit. Yesterday a Galveston man filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the state's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The man, Domenico Nuckols, 60, had a partner deported in 1986.

While there are likely more lawsuits on the way, Chuck Smith, executive director the gay rights group Equality Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that sometimes such cases can be damaging. In this case, Nuckols is representing himself. "I would not encourage someone to do something like this without having legal counsel to assess the strategic values of the case," Smith said. "If you don't do it the right way you can do more harm than good by losing a case and setting a negative precedent."

"First and foremost the likelihood of Governor Perry adding it to the call is low," said Lisa Scheps, operations manager for Equality Texas. If Perry doesn't add the bill to the special session then it won't even be up for discussion. "But we're happy he filed it," Scheps added. Equality Texas considers this past session a successful one for equality rights issues, and Burnam's bill is keeping up that momentum.

"Texas was two years behind finding out about the emancipation proclamation," Burnam said. "I want to make sure it's not two year's behind what the Supreme Court said about marriage equality."


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7 comments
soundpam2
soundpam2

Good luck getting that past the Texas Taliban! We're living in a despotic theocracy these days, folks.

TheCrusher
TheCrusher

@soundpam2 In despotic theocracies, homosexuals are generally murdered for being so, either judicially, or extra-judicially with the tacit support of the law. You can find examples of this today in Islamic nations, and with the actual Taliban. Same-sex marriage restrictions were utterly uncontroversial for 3000 years, up until about 10 years ago. Even today, there is a split of opinion on the matter in the United States, with most polls showing support at around 50% + or - a few points, nationally. 

Bill Clinton, a centrist Democrat, signed DOMA 17 years ago. Leftist Democrat Barack Obama ran for President just 5 years ago professing a belief that marriage was between one man and one woman. And Texas is the Taliban for not having beaten Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and most of the rest of the world to sanction same sex marriages? 

I say this as one who believes that marriage restrictions violate due process and equal protection under the laws. Remember that Loving was decided in 1967. That's not that long ago, if you think about it. Within the next few years, the Court will issue a holding that fells all bans against same-sex marriage at the state level. It's unfortunate that they failed to do so in Windsor this session, but the jurisprudence of the Court seems to be trending in that direction. I think they are a little gun shy, given J. Ginsburg's recent commentary on the Roe decision and the subsequent fallout. They hope the political process will pass them by this time, but I doubt that.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheCrusher @soundpam2 

So, so disingenuous.

You know damn well that there wasn't a politician in this country, Republican or Democrat with Presidential ambitions that "officially" sanctioned gay marriage prior to the beginning of the 21st century.

That would have been tantamount to political suicide for any presidential hopeful or candidate prior to 2003 or so, and you know it.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheCrusher @TheCredibleHulk 

The hysteria displayed by the initial poster in no way mitigates your disingenuous statement regarding the integrity of liberal politicians as opposed to their conservative counterparts.

They are of a piece.

TheCrusher
TheCrusher

@TheCredibleHulk@TheCrusher

This post is only about THIS particular point, in which the poster compared Texas politicians to the Taliban for failing to support same sex marriage. I merely pointed out that the comparison is a bit shrill, considering the facts I pointed out concerning Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama. I thought the latter was the lightbearer, the messiah. Shouldn't we hold him to a higher standard? Didn't he say he was the people we've been waiting for? Or something? 

My point was simply that to vilify all of Texas for a political position that was held until a few minutes ago by two icons of the Left is a bit hysterical. And in light of the simple facts of the matter, it clearly is.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheCrusher 

Well, well.

By all means, let us ALL hold our candidates and representatives to their promises and see if any on either side can come up with any moral superiority on that point.

You are seeing at least as many Republicans candidates sticking their fingers in the wind, feeling the cultural change and adjusting their stances on gay marriage to align with their constituencies changing attitudes on this matter, whether or not they support it personally. It's what politicians do.

The above is not to defend Clinton or Obama, they are as big of hypocrites as any of them.

TheCrusher
TheCrusher

I know, how dare I damn Democrats with their own words and actions! What I also know is that national public support for same sex marriage has been lower than 33% until about 10 years ago. When Clinton signed DOMA, it was probably 20%-ish. Texas hardly lags so far behind the rest of the nation, or even the rest of the world.

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