The Texas Constitution stipulates that:
a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
Otherwise, the state is having some issues clearly defining its laws regarding gay marriage. Governor Rick Perry, however, wants it made very clear that he is not supportive of gay marriage. The amendment banning gay marriage in Texas was passed while he was in office.
The Hope of the Lone Star State
While gay rights and marriage equality rights are arguably struggling in the south, there are great stories of activism coming out of Texas.
The first case is about Judge Tonya Parker. She has taken gay rights into her own hands and made the personal decision to stop performing marriage ceremonies until she herself can marry. “I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality and until it does, I’m not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people,” Parker said, “and it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”
As for group activism, more than a dozen same-sex couples joined together in early October 2011 to march for marriage equality. Hundreds of supporters accompanied them on their way to the capitol, where a mass marriage was conducted by Reverend Meg Barn house of Austin’s First Unitarian Universalist Church. Like other symbolic mass marriages across the country, the couples were well aware that the ceremony would not result in a legal marriage but each couple still joined hands and repeated the vows.
Just the year before the mass marriage, Mark Reed, of GetEQUAL, married his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, in Dallas and legally! Their ceremony of choice was via Skype. The wedding was performed over Skype with officials in Washington, D.C. and their marriage license was mailed to them. With some creativity they found an excellent solution to their problem, “The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends” said Reed.
One of the most recent developments in gay activism in Texas was the case of a gay Costa Rican immigrant in March 2012. David Gonzalez was on track to be deported until a Houston judge spared him and his partner the painful separation. He originally arrived in the U.S. in 2000 on a tourist visa. In 2008 he married Mario Ramirez, his soul mate and a U.S. citizen, in Los Angeles during the brief period of time in which California allowed gay marriage. Although his marriage is not recognized in the state of Texas, the judge dismissed his deportation case on the grounds that he was married to a U.S. citizen. It was a dual victory for immigration and marriage equality advocates, especially in a state where immigration and border control are major issues.
Can gay couples marry in Texas? No.