Lon Burnam files marriage equality bill as Valentine’s Day gift to LGBT Texans

Posted on 14 Feb 2013 at 10:11am
State Rep. Lon Burnam

State Rep. Lon Burnam

As marriage equality supporters prepare for marriage counter protests today, State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, gave the LGBT community a Valentine’s Day gift in the form of HB 1300.

The bill filed this morning would remove provisions in the Texas Family Code from 2003 that deny same-sex couples the ability to marry in the state. It would also allow Texas to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

“Marriage has been the greatest and most rewarding experience of my life,” Burnam said in a statement. “Continuing to deny all Texans the freedom to marry robs them of that experience and is detrimental to their families. Texans want a state where anyone can work hard and provide for their families. Our Texas values mandate defending the right of all Texans to have their rights and responsibilities as couples recognized by the state.”

This is the fifth relationship recognition bill filed in two weeks in the Texas Legislature. Reps. Garnet, D-Houston, and Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, filed joint resolutions to repeal the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment last week, as did state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, marking the first time the repeal legislation had a Senate companion bill. And earlier this week, state Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, D-McAllen, filed legislation to create civil unions for gay couples.

The marriage amendment repeal legislation would need to receive a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to be placed on the ballot, as well as support from a majority of voters in November, in order for Hinojosa or Burnam’s bill to go into effect.

Hinojosa has already received harsh criticism from both opponents of marriage equality and members of the LGBT community who want full marriage equality, not civil unions. Equality Texas’ field organizer Daniel Williams wrote about the threats and hateful comments the senator has received since filing the legislation Monday, adding that while he disagrees with him, he still supports his efforts to move Texas toward equality.

“I know that Sen. Hinojosa filed SB 480 because he is a good, kind man who sincerely wants Texas to be a state with fairness, freedom and equality for all people,” Williams wrote. “I respectfully disagree with the Senator that civil unions are the best avenue for achieving equality (let me rephrase that: I STRONGLY disagree with the Senator that civil unions are the best avenue for achieving equality), but that disagreement doesn’t mean that he’s evil or stupid… it just means we disagree.”

Watch Burnam’s video announcement and read Equality Texas’ full release about the bill below.

State Rep. Lon Burnam Files HB 1300 Providing for the Freedom to Marry in Texas

Austin, Texas (February 14, 2013) – In a Valentine’s Day gift to all Texans, State Representative Lon Burnam (D-90) today filed legislation [HB 1300] to permit same-gender couples in Texas the freedom to marry. The legislation would remove revisions made to the state’s Family Code in 2003 that prohibit the recognition of marriages between two people of the same gender, either performed in Texas or in other states.

If enacted, HB 1300 would provide important legal protections for same-gender couples, including property rights, homestead rights, child custody and support, adoption, intestate succession, probate transfers, group insurance for state employees, and workers’ compensation benefits.

“Marriage has been the greatest and most rewarding experience of my life,” said Burnam. “Continuing to deny all Texans the freedom to marry robs them of that experience and is detrimental to their families. Texans want a state where anyone can work hard and provide for their families. Our Texas values mandate defending the right of all Texans to have their rights and responsibilities as couples recognized by the state.”

An October 2012 poll by the Texas Tribune and University of Texas shows that 69% of Texans support some form of legal recognition of same-gender relationships.

“The increasing public support for the freedom to marry in Texas is yet another sign that equal recognition of loving, committed couples is a mainstream Texas value,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said. “Rep. Burnam has long been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community and the freedom to marry. HB 1300, together with the Joint Resolutions filed in the House and Senate, are the legislative steps necessary to enact into law what we already know to be true: that LGBT Texans are equal and deserve equal recognition of their familial relationships.”

The legislation would take effect only if the constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Jose Rodriguez [SJR 29], Rep. Rafael Anchia [HJR 77] or Rep. Garnet Coleman [HJR 78] passes the state legislature and is approved by voters. SJR 29, HJR 77 or HJR 78 would repeal the 2005 Texas Constitutional Amendment which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prohibits recognition of anything similar to marriage.

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