State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa files bill to legalize civil unions in Texas

Posted on 11 Feb 2013 at 4:28pm
hinojosa

Sen. Chuy Hinojosa

State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has filed a bill to legalize civil unions in Texas if the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting both same-sex marriage and civil unions is first repealed.

Hinojosa’s SB 480 would take effect in 2014, but only if the 2005 amendment is overturned under resolutions filed last week by Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and Reps. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, and Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. To pass, those resolutions would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to be placed on the ballot, then support from a majority of voters in November.

Hinojosa’s bill would repeal a portion of Texas’ 2003 Defense of Marriage Act (not to be confused with the federal version), which is part of the Family Code and states that Texas and its political subdivisions are prohibited from recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions from here or elsewhere. The 2003 DOMA was passed in response to the legalization of civil unions in places like Vermont, as well as a Beaumont couple’s attempt to obtain a divorce from their civil union in Texas.

According to a press release from Equality Texas (the bill text was not yet available on the Legislature’s site), Hinojosa’s bill would remove the prohibition on civil unions and provide for the establishment of civil unions for same-gender couples, granting them “the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under the law as are granted to spouses in a marriage.”

Executive Director Chuck Smith said while Equality Texas supports marriage equality, civil unions would be a step in the right direction.

“We believe that every Texas family should be able to take care of those they love. Today’s action by Senator Hinojosa is a landmark first step in the process of dismantling Texas’ discriminatory ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and charting us on a path toward full equality,” Smith said. “Equality Texas supports full equality and the freedom to marry. Our work for equal recognition of all Texas families will not be complete until the discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment is repealed from the State Constitution and DOMA is fully repealed from the State Family Code, thus allowing committed same-gender couples the freedom to marry. Until then, this legislation would provide committed couples with some of the important protections they need in order to take care of their families.”

Read Equality Texas’ full press release below.

Senator Chuy Hinojosa Files SB 480 to Create Civil Unions in Texas

Austin, Texas (February 11, 2013) – State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen (D-20) today filed legislation [SB 480] to partially repeal Texas’ “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which was added to the state’s Family Code in 2003. DOMA denies same-gender Texans in committed relationships the freedom to marry or enter into a civil union. The legislation filed by Senator Hinojosa would remove the prohibition of civil unions and provide for the establishment of civil unions for same-gender couples granting them “the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under the law as are granted to spouses in a marriage.”

If enacted, SB 480 would provide some 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.

The legislation would take effect in 2014, but only if the constitutional amendment proposed last week by Senator Jose Rodriguez [SJR 29], Rep. Rafael Anchia [HJR 77] or Rep. Garnet Coleman [HJR 78] is approved by voters. SJR 29, HJR 77 or HJR 78 would repeal the 2005 Texas Marriage Amendment which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prohibits recognition of anything similar to marriage, including civil unions.

Statement of Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith:

“We believe that every Texas family should be able to take care of those they love. Today’s action by Senator Hinojosa is a landmark first step in the process of dismantling Texas’ discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” and charting us on a path toward full equality.

Equality Texas supports full equality and the freedom to marry. Our work for equal recognition of all Texas families will not be complete until the discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment is repealed from the State Constitution and DOMA is fully repealed from the State Family Code, thus allowing committed same-gender couples the freedom to marry.

Until then, this legislation would provide committed couples with some of the important protections they need in order to take care of their families.”

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