Tribpedia: Gay Marriage

In May 2005, Texas legislators amended the state Constitution to specify that "marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman." That November, about 76 percent of Texas voters approved the gay-marriage ban.

Before and after that, however, transgender marriage cases sparked controversies and confusion about what, for the sake of marriage, legally defines men and women in Texas. A 1999 court ruling, Littleton v. Prange, established a person's birth certificate as his or her legal gender-defining document, regardless of whether or not he or she has sex reassignment surgery.

A 2009 change to the Texas Family Code allowed marriage applicants to use a sex change court order to nullify the gender on their birth certificates. But the code does not give precedence of any of the 19 possible types of identification that marriage license applicants may use, which led to questions for Sabrina Hill, a transgender woman, and Therese Bur, who applied to marry in El Paso County in April 2010. County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to weigh in on the issue.

Then there's divorce. State District Judge Scott Jenkins granted a divorce in February 2010 to a Travis County same-sex couple who married in Massachusetts, the second same-sex divorce in Texas. The attorney general tried to block both, arguing those marriages were not valid in Texas to begin with.

Meanwhile, state District Court Judge Tena Callahan ruled in October that the state ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. Abbott appealed the ruling.

In a February 2010 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 30 percent of respondents opposed gay marriage and civil unions, 35 percent said they would allow civil unions and 28 percent said they would allow gay marriage.

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