October 27, 2005
Complaint filed against Save Texas Marriage
I'll say this for Save Texas Marriage: They've stirred up the pot something fierce.
An organization of heterosexuals opposed to amending the Texas constitution to ban gay marriage is accused of using automated phone messages to mislead voters.
In tape recorded messages sent to a million homes in Texas a group called Save Texas Marriage says that amendment is so badly worded it would nullify common-law marriages.
Wednesday the conservative Liberty Legal Institute filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission. Acting for the group supporting the amendment the institute claims the phone ads were designed to "confuse voters that favor the amendment using deceptive practices." and argues the calls illegally went out to people who had registered for the National Do Not Call list.
Late Wednesday the FCC dismissed the complaint saying it does not regulate the content of political advertisements and the Do Not Call list does not apply to political campaigns.
Liberty Legal has also filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission, and The Federal Trade Commission.
Don't forget the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and FEMA, just in case. You know how sneaky those gays are.
I remain skeptical of the strategy that Save Texas Marriage is employing, but I cannot deny that it's generated a lot of coverage. If local Happy Talk TV News around the state does teasers for it with one of the breathless blowdried anchorpeople saying something like "Could your marriage be outlawed in the next election?", then I'd have to admit that they've hit the center of their target.
And two can play at the complaint-filing game. In response to a report that Rep. Warren Chisum sent out a pro-Prop 2 press release from his office in Austin, which could violate the statutory ban on the use of public funds for political advertising, BOR's Karl-T filed a complaint and "request to investigate" these actions with a special prosecutor in the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office. I'll be very interested to see how that turns out.
In my opinion, No Nonsense In November founder Glen Maxey epitomized class when he gave the following statement in a story about a pro-Porp 2 rally thrown by the KKK:
Glen Maxey, who heads anti-proposition group No Nonsense in November, said it would be unfair to assume those who support the proposition also support the Klan.
"It just ticks me off that people like this purport to speak for anyone, including people on the other side of the debate," said Maxey, an Austin Democrat who served several years in the Legislature as its only openly gay member.
"It's certainly not helpful," he added. "As a political consultant, I'd be drinking a stiff one right now if I had to deal with these people articulating my message."
The next time one of our friends on the Right uses the actions of some isolated knucklehead to make a claim about "the Left", show him this quote.
Finally, a little setting of expectations about the outcome:
State constitutional elections typically are low-key affairs, drawing fewer than 10 percent of voters to the polls. And because it is widely assumed the amendment will pass easily, apathy also could supress turnout, said state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, the author of the ban.
For Chisum, winning with less than 70 percent of the vote would be a disappointment.
Most states that have approved gay marriage bans have done so by overwhelming margins, including 86 percent in Mississippi. The closest outcome was in Oregon, where gay rights advocates outspent their opponents but still lost 57 percent to 43 percent.
Because turnout will be low, their superior grassroots organization favors amendment opponents, said Glen Maxey, director of the Austin-based No Nonsense In November.
"Whoever has the best ground game in this election wins," Maxey said.
Even matching Oregon's result would be a political triumph, Maxey added, creating what he called a "Paul Hacket moment."
Hacket was an anti-war Democratic candidate in Ohio who stunned the political establishment earlier this year by nearly winning a staunchly Republican congressional district.
"If we even come close, that changes people's perceptions about Texas," Maxey said.
Seventy percent versus fifty-seven percent. Who's going to come closer? Leave your guesses in the comments.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 27, 2005 to Election 2005
I'd go with 65-35 approving. I'd think 70% would be possible if it weren't for the fact that it's an off-year election and Houston will be a disproportionate number of votes (not Harris County ... HOUSTON). The Harris County numbers will be interesting to see - I'll guess somewhere around 60-40 for passage. I still think there's some under-the-radar GOTV effort among political church organizers that should balance out the NNN efforts.
I'll be optimistic and say 63-37 for.
Did I mention that I got one of STM's robocalls? And my number is on the do-not-call list, but even I knew that political calls weren't covered by it. I can't believe Liberty Legal didn't know that. I think they were just making a frivolous argument for their own fundraising purposes.
As far as STM being "deceptive," I guess that might be true if they're actually a bunch of liberals: they're trying to appeal to wingnuts with arguments against "liberal Austin judges" in their calls. But even if so, duh - what else is new? "Political groups using deceptive ads?" I'm shocked - SHOCKED!
As for the Klan, well, didn't Prop. 2's supporters know they were homophobic too? "The Klan - it's not just for racists anymore!" Another Duh moment.
My prediction: it passes 60%-40%. (Actually I think Greg'll probably be closer, but I like to be over-optimistic when it comes to the citizens of this state. La esperanza muerte ultima.)
51-49, get's defeated. I don't see why anyone here thinks it will be upwards of 60% considering the Republican polling on this from 2 weeks ago had it only passed by a 55-45 margin. That and it's losing in Baxter, Keel and Wong's districts by healthy margins.
If we lose this by just a few votes, I'm going to cast my eyes at every person on our side who said "it'll pass" and cast blame and judgement, that you can be assured of.
It will pass with 60 plus percent. Remember many part of the Democrat coalition - blacks, hispanics, catholics, rural farmers - support traditional marriage and will vote "Yes."
The robo calls have also inflamed the Christian Commumity and are backfiring against Maxey's strategy. He was too cute for his own good.
I expect Prop 2 to lose in Travis County but it won;t be as lopsided as some people think. Many of the eastside churches are uring people to go vote "yes."
I don't accept the charge that SaveTexasMarriage is being misleading.
I'm a technical writer and showed the wording of the amendment to several other writers in our group. We were all appalled. Aside from the political meanings of the amendment, those who can't write a meaningful grammatical sentence deserve to have their amendment rejected on vagueness alone.
On another note, I happened to hear the phone message and I found it to be pointed and appropriate. The problem is when you hear the sentences recited rapidly, you don't take away very much except some vague recollection. Hey, welcome to the wonderful world of advertising.
I agree with Mr. Nagle. I don't think there is anything misleading about Save Texas Marriage's stance, either. As a lawyer, I can tell you that a provision as vague as this can lead to no good at all and will undoubtedly lead to all kinds of litigation.
Keep in mind that "marriage" is not defined in our state statutes. That is what has made room for courts to develop and recognize the notion of common law marriage. By defining marriage in the Constitution (and doing so very poorly), the amendment would likely strip the courts of that ability. Moreover, as definitions go, this is wishy-washy as they come. The "union" of a man and a woman. What's a union? Does it take place in front of a judge? In front of a priest? A minister? A rabbi? How about a ship's captain? How about a Buddhist monk? A Notary Public? There are a lot of questions, and I think there will be a lot of time and resources spent on answering them if this garbage passes.
Did you know that it was released tonight (internally) that Prop 2 is losing in Martha Wong's district with 68% polling against it?
Oh I forgot, it's going to pass statewide by over 60% with internals like that...
What is the current law for common law marriage in Texas? And the vagueness of Prop 2 law would complicate, open for challenge or undo common law marriage in Texas?
Texas Common-law Marriage from wikpedia:
Common-law marriage is known as an "informal marriage," which can be established either by declaration (registering at the county courthouse without having a ceremony), or by meeting a 3-prong test showing evidence of (1) an agreement to be married; (2) cohabitation in Texas; and (3) representation to others that the parties are married. However, if a couple does not commence a proceeding to prove their relationship was a marriage within two years of the end of the relationship, by law the marriage never existed in the first place, and no agreement to be married was ever present. See Texas Family Code Sec. 2.401.
SUBCHAPTER E. MARRIAGE WITHOUT FORMALITIES
§ 2.401. PROOF OF INFORMAL MARRIAGE.
(a) In a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding, the marriage of a man and woman may be proved by evidence that:
(1) a declaration of their marriage has been signed as provided by this subchapter; or
(2) the man and woman agreed to be married and after the agreement they lived together in this state as husband and wife and there represented to others that they were married.
(b) If a proceeding in which a marriage is to be proved as provided by Subsection (a)(2) is not commenced before the second anniversary of the date on which the parties separated and ceased living together, it is rebuttably presumed that the parties did not enter into an agreement to be married.
(c) A person under 18 years of age may not:
(1) be a party to an informal marriage; or
(2) execute a declaration of informal marriage under Section 2.402.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, § 1, eff. April 17, 1997.
Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1362, § 1, eff. Sept. 1,
How would one go about proving that a common law marriage doesn't exist? Is it simply "he said-she said". Or does one have to go about finding witnesses, etc?