El Paso State Senator Joins Colleagues In Filing Texas Marriage Equality Legislation
Today, Senator José Rodríguez joined colleagues in the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives in pre-filing legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in Texas.
S.J.R. 13 by Senators Rodríguez and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proposes a constitutional amendment that would repeal the existing same-sex marriage ban in the Texas Constitution.
"Texas is now only one of 18 states that deny legalized same sex marriage to its residents," said Senator Rodríguez. "This not only shows the rest of the country that we remain mired in our history of inequality, it sends the message that our leadership would rather listen to the voice of intolerance than provide many of its residents the dignity and respect that they deserve. The time to change that is now."
The senator further stated that all people, gay or straight, should be permitted to build a family undisturbed by government interference, and to make a lifelong commitment before their community to the person they love.
"All Texas couples should be allowed the freedom to marry, build a family, care for those they love, and be treated with dignity and respect," said Senator Hinojosa. "We are all equals¾each of us only wanting to take care of our families and our children. We cannot deny someone that right."
Marriage equality allows all members of our society the civil protections guaranteed under the constitution. Passage of this legislation would have profound implications on gay couples in terms of legal benefits, including tax breaks, being able to visit a partner in the hospital and make medical decisions, social security survivor benefits, and important family law rights in child custody and divorce proceedings.
Since Texans voted against marriage equality in 2005, attitudes and public opinion on the issue have changed considerably. According to a 2013 Texas Tribune poll, about 60 percent of Texas voters favor legal recognition for same-sex couples. In addition, nearly 50 courts have upheld the freedom to marry since the Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor, which struck down as unconstitutional a federal law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages, last June.
Senators Rodríguez and Hinojosa filed S.J.R. 13 and S.B. 98 on the first day of pre-filing to highlight their importance. Legislators are permitted to "pre-file" legislation from the first Monday after the general election to opening day in January. Rodríguez will continue to pre-file bills during the next several weeks on issues related to education, economic development, health care, and criminal justice.
José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, and a member of the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, and Government Organization.