Maybe you are, and maybe you’re not.
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.
“You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says,” said Radnofsky[.]
This argument was made in 2005 when that referendum passed, and as it is now it was pooh-poohed then by those who pushed it. I’m not a lawyer and can’t give a lawyer’s opinion of this, but I certainly do remember having the same misgivings, and my archives will show that I wrote about them at the time. I suppose it’s all theoretical until someone files a lawsuit, but now that we’ve had the gay divorce ruling in Dallas, who knows what could happen. The best course of action, on many levels, would be to repeal this petty little piece of bigotry. That, sadly, isn’t going to happen, and I doubt the proponents of this amendment will see any need to modify the verbiage, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if it ever gets challenged. Hair Balls has more.