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Photo provided courtesy of The Texas Tribune

Citing DOMA ruling, rep files gay marriage bill

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's Wednesday decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Texas Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed a bill Monday to legalize gay marriage in Texas.
Photo provided courtesy of The Texas Tribune

Texas Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed a bill Monday to legalize gay marriage in Texas.

This follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wednesday decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by individual states, and declare Proposition 8, a law that prohibited same-sex marriage in California, unconstitutional.

The bill would also repeal a statutory prohibition against the recognition of civil unions or similar relationships entered into by two people of the same sex in another state.

Burnam filed an identical bill in the regular session. The bill was sent to the House State Affairs committee and did not receive a hearing.

Burnam said in a Wednesday statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling that he planned to file the bill, citing the Supreme Court’s opinion on DOMA.

“The Supreme Court found today that the federal government acted to ‘impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages,’” Burnam said in the statement. “I can assure you the Texas Legislature did the same. As such, it is time to renounce our homophobic state laws and usher in marriage equality in Texas.”

Burnam said he sees the measure as being more important than the debate over abortion restriction that is currently going on.

“I call on Governor Perry to add marriage equality to the special session call,” Burnam said. “Clearly granting equal rights to all Texans is more urgent than imposing restrictions on women’s health and liberty based on junk science and sham medical research.”

Burnam went on to say that Texas has often in the past been prompted to equality only when it was realized by federal courts.

“It is the shame of our state that we continually have to wait for a federal judge to make us do the right thing,” Burnam said. “It happened with segregated schools, segregated parks and segregated housing. Let’s not let it happen with segregated marriage rights.”

The bill would amend state law to extend parental, property and other legal rights of marriage to same-sex couples.

Gay marriage is currently legal in 13 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. It is also legal in the District of Columbia and five Native American tribes.

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