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Law enforcement for same sex marriage

Bravo, y’all.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia

Sheriff Adrian Garcia

The Democratic sheriffs of Texas’ two most populous counties have signed on with more than 60 other Texas law enforcement officials and first responders saying the state’s ban on same sex marriage not only disrespects but endangers front-line public safety officers.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia lent their names to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Tuesday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is hearing the state’s appeal of a February ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia that declared Texas’ ban against gay marriage as unconstitutional.

Also filing briefs in support of the same-sex couple plaintiffs by Tuesday night’s deadline were 200 clergy members, including Episcopal Bishop Scott Mayer of a diocese covering the Panhandle, Lubbock and Abilene; major corporations, including Cisco, Alcoa, Pfizer, Target, Intel, Google and Staples; and about 10 other groups.

Last month, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick and GOP attorney general nominee Ken Paxton joined 61 legislative colleagues in signing a Texas Conservative Coalition brief that it was “entirely rational public policy” to oppose dissolving the gay marriage ban because recognition of same sex unions might lead to recognition of incest, pedophilia and polygamy.

Democrats Valdez and Garcia joined a brief by active and retired Texas police, prison security personnel, firefighters and paramedics saying the ban denies “peace of mind” and dignity to gay and lesbian public safety officers.

Their partners can’t qualify for the state’s $250,000 death benefits for police and firefighters who die in the line of duty. Nor can their children receive free tuition and fees at state colleges and universities, as the children of heterosexual officers do after such tragedies. Only in late July, after an action by the U.S. Department of Justice, did Texas public safety officers who are gay and lesbian gain the ability for their partners to qualify for federal death benefits of more than $333,000, the brief said. But they still have to travel to a state that allows gay marriage and get married there, it said — something straight couples don’t have to do.

If gay and lesbian public safety officers in Texas remain in the closet, the brief notes, their partners may not be notified if there is a medical emergency. More ominously, it says, the state’s discrimination may permeate police and fire departments and emergency services districts and convey a message that the gay and lesbian employees “do not deserve the same degree of respect and dignity as their heterosexual colleagues.” That could lead to concerns about “whether their heterosexual colleagues would provide backup in dangerous situations,” the brief warns.

“In sum, the ability of a gay and lesbian officer to marry would not only allow them to be treated equally with their peers, … but would also ensure them the peace of mind of knowing that the person they love will be cared for if they are killed in the line of duty,” it said.

A copy of the brief is here. We’re still waiting for the Fifth Circuit to schedule a hearing, after Greg Abbott files another silly response to the plaintiffs’ response to him. A better man than Greg Abbott would have recognized how wrong-headed his arguments were and how consistently the courts have rejected them and saved the state some money and a lot of deserving people a lot of inconvenience and uncertainty, but unfortunately he’s what we’re stuck with. We could really use a better Attorney General than the one we have and the one we’ll get if we don’t get out and vote in November. The Trib and Unfair Park have more.

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