October 24, 2005
On saving marriage in Texas
There's a new website up called Save Texas Marriage, which makes the claim that Proposition 2 is so poorly worded that it would actually outlaw all marriages in the state of Texas. I can't say I think much of this argument - among other things, if this were the case, someone might have thought to mention in before now. You can visit the site and see for yourself what they have to say, but for my money, this is the kind of case I'd like to see made against Prop 2.
Some Dallas-area business owners believe the marriage amendment, should it pass, will hamper the state's business growth.
"If you are sitting at Stanford in the midst of a progressive culture that accepts you whether you are Indian, Asian or gay and see Texas -- what kind of message are you sending to (prospective) employees? That you only accept ... straight (employees)? That you don't accept people for who they are," said Frank McGovern, founder and president of Dallas-based Quality Telephone Inc., a telephone service provider.
Austin attorney Anne Wynne of Ikard Wynne Ratliff L.L.P. said marriage amendments passed in other states have affected domestic-partner benefits, even causing attorneys to argue that domestic violence laws no longer apply to heterosexual, unmarried couples.
Mary Mason, chairwoman of the board of directors for Missing Lynx, a San Ramon, Calif.-based software company, says the company aborted its plans to move to Ohio after that state passed an amendment banning gay marriage.
It was the last straw for about half of the company's 20 employees who were already wavering on moving for other reasons, including cold weather.
"Some of our employees are gay or have gay members in their family," she said.
Mason said that Missing Lynx still plans to expand in a new city, and Austin is one of the contenders. But Mason adds that a marriage amendment would discourage the company from looking more closely at Texas.
Tech businesses "are all being courted by Galveston and Austin, who are looking to bring in high-tech development," Mason said. "They are talking nice, but I can't get the people I need to move there.
"Part of what I've found is that people who can think creatively and can do this kind of work need a tolerant environment," Mason said. "Texas will wind up looking un-American, intolerant and very foolish."
There are many very real and tangible harms that Prop 2 will cause if it passes. I'd rather talk about that, because that's what matters. I'm not sure where the idea for Save Texas Marriage came from, but I don't buy it and I don't think the voters will, either. Story link via By the Bayou
Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 24, 2005 to Election 2005
It should probably be remembered that this has already happened in Texas. Williamson County (just north of Travis) passed an anti-gay ordinance that convinced Apple not to build a planned factory there.
I guess this happened back in the early '90s, though, so it may be too long ago for people to actually remember.
My understanding of it, and my own personal analysis of the language, is that the greater and more realistic risk is that the wording of the proposition might just cause the end of common-law marriage in the state. By saying that the state and its agents cannot recognize anything "identical to" a marriage, that can also be used to justify not recognizing a relationship just like a marriage but without the official state license - like a common-law marriage. Texas currently recognizes common-law marriage, so this would be a significant change.
My mom read me a paragraph from the voter's guide she got in the mail. The wording was very insidious. It made it sound like there was a proposition on the ballot IN FAVOR OF gay marriage, which made me think it was worded that way in order to trick those who weren't doing their homework, but who might support the idea of same-sex marriage, to vote in opposition to their beliefs. Scary.
Good luck, Texas! I wish I could throw a vote in there.
For the record, it's not like nobody thought to mention it before now. Some smart-ass blogger wrote about it in May, three days after the joint resolution passed the Senate.
As for whether this argument will have particular popular grip, I'm unwilling to predict, but I can at least say that I, for one, if I opposed gay marriage and favored a constitutional amendment denying it, would oppose this amendment on these grounds. The literal wording is clear and unambiguous -- it's exactly what you'd write if you were trying to ban legal recognition of all marriage.
Frankly, I'd be embarrassed to be a citizen of a state that codified ridiculous statutes like that.
Believe it or not, I got a robocall from Save Texas Marriage. The recording tried to make a right-wing argument against Prop. 2, implying they would've been for it had the "any status identical or similar to marriage" language been restricted to same-sex couples only! They also took a gratuitous swipe at "liberal Austin judges" who might deliberately read the language as outlawing all marriage. (I guess all wingnuts "know" that all liberals secretly want to ban all marriage and force even straight couples to live in "sin!")
I guess it's nice that a few wingnuts are on our side, even if it is for the wrong reasons. It worked against Harriet Miers, after all.
"I'm not sure where the idea for Save Texas Marriage came from, but I don't buy it and I don't think the voters will, either. "
"Save Texas Marriage" came from the fertile imagination of Margot Clarke, who was twice rebuffed Austin City Council races for being too liberal, which is really saying something in Austin. For more details, see http://austinvitw.blogspot.com/2005/10/phone-gall.html
The Dallas Business Journal story does not mention the myriad of other factors that businesses look at when considering relocation, such as
- Proximity to distribution channels and markets
- Availability of a skilled workforce
- Availability of and proximity to suppliers
- Access to investment capital
- Local government incentives, such as tax abatements and waivers from environmental regulations
- Presence of competitors
- Regulatory environment
- Facilities costs
- Cost of living
- And anything else affecting the cost of doing business and the chances of increased revenue in a particular locale
When considering relocation, I think itís likely that any business worth their salt is going to look a lot more closely at these concrete issues than the inderminate legalities Glen Maxey frets about in the DBJ story.
Furthermore, the Texas Marriage Amendment is a restriction on political entities, not private enterprises. Corporations can do whatever they want under the amendment. The DBJ article admits as much (though on the last page of a 7 page post).
Thus, I hold that voting against prop 2 because these economic concerns is unfounded.