Is Texas set to ban marriage?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

First, there was the collision of laws that made it possible to bring capital murder charges against some physicians who perform abortions in Texas.

Now, with an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot, some are warning that certain judges might "interpret" the wording of the proposed amendment to mean that the state cannot recognize any marriage!

Proposition 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot states that marriage exists only as a union of one man and one woman.

It then adds that the state or political subdivision of the state "may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage ." [bold added]

"That in the hands of an activist judge could lead to the ruin of my marriage and every other marriage in this state because the status that is most identical to marriage is obviously marriage itself," said Trampes Crow, a graduate student at the University of Texas and a former army captain who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who authored the amendment, called the group's assertion "ludicrous" and said no legal scholar could possibly agree that Proposition 2 could negate traditional marriages.

"It's just crazy," said Chisum, who has long championed measures to block same-sex marriage in Texas. "This is politics at its lowest level here. They're just trying to scare people."

Well, Mr. Chisum, the wording actually sounds pretty unambiguous to me! In fact, with a literal reading of the law you wrote, one could go a step further and say that your new law would (1) make it impossible for heterosexual couples to marry at all in Texas, (2) cause Texas to not recognize marriages performed in other states (causing the law, I think, to run afoul of the 14th amendment), and (3) cause only homosexual unions -- which are eliminated from the newly-outlawed institution of marriage by the same law -- to have legal status in Texas! The last consequence is conditional upon someone finding, of course, that a homosexual union is not "similar to" marriage. Good work, Warren!

I couldn't find out for certain whether Chisum is a fundamentalist, but if so, his angry quote in the last paragraph above would be particularly ironic. In any case, it's amusing to see someone hoist himself with his own petard.

I was already planning to vote against this amendment by November 8, and that was before I learned of this little problem!

On a more serious note, I know that the above interpretations will almost certainly never happen, but this begs the further question: Is it not alarming that we live under such poorly-worded laws?

-- CAV

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