On Feb. 14, State Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) caught the attention of the Texas lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQI) community when he filed HB 1300, a same-sex marriage bill.
Nine states—Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington as well as the District of Columbia–currently allow same sex marriage. Rhode Island currently recognizes same-sex unions issued in other states, while nine states prohibit same-sex marriage by statute and 30—including Texas—prohibit it in their constitutions.
The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act from the 2003 Texas Family Code, which denies same-sex couples the ability to marry in the state of Texas and prohibited Texas from recognizing same-sex unions from other states.
The Dallas Voice recently reported that, “HB 1300 follows a Feb. 6 bill filed by Dallas Rep. Rafael Anchia to repeal the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.” Anchia’s bill was also followed by SB 480 filed on Feb. 11 from State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen), which would address the same Texas Family Code provision as HB 1300.
“Marriage has been the greatest and most rewarding experience of my life,” said Burnam in an interview with OutSmart Magazine. “Continuing to deny all Texans the freedom to marry robs them of that experience and is detrimental to their families. Texans want a state where anyone can work hard and provide for their families. Our Texas values mandate defending the right of all Texans to have their rights and responsibilities as couples recognized by the state,” he said.
The Dallas Voice noted, “a Public Policy Polling poll…shows that 61 percent of Texas voters favor either same-sex marriage or civil unions.” The poll reflected a drop in public support from a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in October, which showed that 69 percent of Texas voters supported same-sex marriages.
“The increasing public support for the freedom to marry in Texas is yet another sign that equal recognition of loving, committed couples is a mainstream Texas value,” said Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith in an official statement. “Rep. Burnam has long been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community and the freedom to marry. HB 1300, together with the Joint Resolutions filed in the House and Senate, are the legislative steps necessary to enact into law what we already know to be true: that LGBT Texans are equal and deserve equal recognition of their familial relationships.”
Before any of the bills seeking to repeal the 2003 Defense of Marriage Act could take effect though, a 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting both same-sex marriage and civil unions would need to be repealed. The Dallas Voice reported that this repeal would come, if at all, through “resolutions filed last week by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), Reps. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) and Garnet Coleman (D-Houston). To pass, those resolutions would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to be placed on the ballot, then support from a majority of voters in November.”

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