Texas legislator laying the groundwork for same-sex civil unions

During the last week of March, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in two very important cases concerning whether the issue of same-sex marriage. In United States v. Windsor, the court will be asked to decide whether portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as occurring only between a man and a woman should be upheld, while in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court will be asked to decide whether California’s voter approved ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

As it turns out, the issue of same-sex marriage/civil unions is not only creating headlines on the national stage, but here in Texas as well.

Three Texas legislators proposed a constitutional amendment last month seeking to overturn the 2005 voter approved amendments to the state Constitution and the Texas Family Code banning both civil unions and same-sex marriages.

In addition, Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) filed legislation last month that, if passed, would allow same-sex couples in Texas to enter into legally recognized civil unions.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of civil unions, they essentially grant same-sex couples many of the rights/benefits of a traditional marriage, including property rights, child custody, child support, and workers’ compensation benefits.

“[Civil unions will] treat same-gender couples with the dignity and respect they deserve as well as allow them the benefits to take care of their families,” said Hinojosa.

In support of the legislation authorizing same-sex civil unions, Hinojosa pointed to an October 2012 poll by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, which found that 33 percent of Texans thought that same-sex couples should have the right to enter into civil unions, while 36 percent of Texans thought same-sex couples should have the right to marry.

“Texans are now realizing the importance of providing same-gender couples the same protection that married couples receive,” he said.

It must be noted that passage of Hinojosa’s bill is contingent upon two very important factors. First, both the state House and state Senate must each approve the aforementioned constitutional amendment repealing the ban on civil unions and same-sex marriages by a two-thirds majority vote. Second, the majority of voters of in Texas must approve the amendment next November.

Stay tuned for updates on this important story from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about divorce, property division, spousal support, child custody or other family law matters, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Monitor, “Same-sex civil unions in Texas? McAllen Dem’s bill could pave the way,” Jared Janes, Feb. 12, 2013