Austin City Council to become 1st in Texas to back marriage equality

The sponsors of the resolution are Mayor Lee Leffingwell, center, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, far left, and Councilwoman Laura Morrison, third from left.

The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution in support of marriage equality.

Sources tell us the resolution is all but certain to pass, making Austin the first city in the state to formally back marriage equality.

More than 1,700 people signed a petition in support of the resolution posted by Equality Texas last month.

The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Councilwoman Laura Morrison. It is backed by Equality  Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Leffingwell, Cole and Morrison will join representatives from the groups for a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.

“The Council resolution recognizes that marriage is a powerful and important affirmation of love and commitment and a source of social support and recognition,” Equality Texas said in a release today. “Passage of this resolution will send the message to state and national leaders that Austin is a community that values equality for all its citizens. The resolution will also send the message that the City of Austin believes all couples in loving and committed relationships should be given the opportunity to create stronger and more successful families through civil marriage.”

Read the resolution after the jump.

—  John Wright

Would a resolution backing marriage equality pass the Dallas City Council?

Equality Texas has posted a petition calling for the Austin City Council to approve a resolution in support of marriage equality. As far as I know, Austin would be the first city in Texas to do so.

According to the petition, the resolution is sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Councilwoman Laura Morrison, and backed by Equality  Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The resolution will be voted on in September.

“Marriage provides legal and economic protections including access to health care, recognition of parental and custodial responsibilities, property rights, and other protections which are vital to the safety and security of every family, and is a powerful and important affirmation of love and commitment and a source of social support and recognition,” the petition states in part. “As the Supreme Court said in the 1967 landmark case Loving v. Virginia, ‘Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival. Thank you for your leadership in support of the freedom to marry and for sending the message nationwide that the City of Austin values equality.”

The petition currently has 326 signatures, with a goal of 1,000. Especially if you live in Austin, but even if you don’t, sign it by going here.

On a side note, one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before a similar resolution is proposed in Dallas. Leffingwell is among the six mayors from Texas who signed a Freedom to Marry “pledge” earlier this year. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, of course, is not — even though Rawlings has said he would vote in favor of marriage equality if he had the chance.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that with Rawlings’ support, the votes are there right now, today, on the Dallas City Council to pass a similar resolution. Can you guess who my other seven votes are?

UPDATE: Daniel Williams at Equality Texas sent over a copy of the resolution that will be voted on by the Austin City Council in September, and I’ve posted it below. The resolution is a powerful statement in support of equality, and one that pro-LGBT council members in every progressive city in this state should consider putting forward.

—  John Wright

Lesbian candidates seek return to city councils in Austin and San Antonio

Elena Guajardo

Two out lesbians are in runoffs for City Council seats in Texas. They are Elena Guajardo in San Antonio and Randi Shade in Austin.

Elena Guajardo

Elena Guajardo faces a runoff for the District 7 seat on the San Antonio City Council. When she was first elected in 2005, she was the first openly gay person to be elected to the council in the Alamo City.

San Antonio has the most restrictive term limits in the country. A council member or mayor can only serve two two-year terms.

In 2007, Guajardo was defeated, and this year she is one of five seeking the open seat.

When Guajardo was elected in 2005, San Antonio’s daily newspaper published the headline, “Lesbian wins council seat.” This time, the newspaper endorsed her.

Guajardo retired from Southwestern Bell after 30 years of service in 2000. She came out in 2004.

She said the first person she told was her bishop.

“There are two things I need to tell you,” she said to him. “First, I’m running for city council. Second, I’m gay.”

—  David Taffet