Dallasite creates local Marriage Equality group

Couple starts Dallas chapter of national group that promotes equality for same-sex couples

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

 Eric Crawford, right, and his fiance Marcus Watson
ENGAGED IN CHANGE | Eric Crawford, right, and his fiance Marcus Watson, pictured here in Central Park, first heard of Marriage Equality USA during a June trip to New York City.

Last week in California, federal District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a ruling striking down the state’s anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8.

Earlier this year, legislators in Mexico City passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, and last week the country’s Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the law constitutionally valid. Then this week, that same court ruled that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City must be legally recognized throughout the country.

Portugal legalized same-sex marriage in May, and Argentina followed suit in July. And this week, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled that an initiative on the ballot there for December, on whether to ban same-sex civil unions, is unconstitutional and cannot go forward.

The fight for marriage equality continues to advance around the globe.
But not in Texas.

It’s not that LGBT Texans aren’t trying. And Dallasite Eric Crawford said this week that he is joining the battle full force by starting a Dallas chapter of the national organization Marriage Equality USA.

“Right now, we are just having an organizational meeting,” Crawford said. But he has big plans for the future.

“We want to plan events throughout the year, things like maybe a Valentine’s Day dance in February and other things to focus attention on marriage equality,” he said. “There are a variety of efforts we could take on, letter-writing campaigns, attending events like the Prop 8 celebration here.

“I will get ideas from the people who participate, see what they are up for and how far they want to take it,” he added. “I know Marriage Equality USA needs funds to help fight the appeal on Prop 8 in California. Maybe we could help them raise the money they need.”

Crawford explained that he and his partner, Marcus Watson, first heard about the organization when they went to New York in June for the gay Pride celebration there.

Marriage was already on their minds since they got engaged the day before the left on the trip and are now planning a wedding for next July.

“We heard about Marriage Equality New York and what they are doing, and it really got me excited and engaged,” Crawford said. “So I started checking around in Dallas and I didn’t find any groups here specifically pertaining to marriage equality. Then I went online and found Marriage Equality USA.

“That’s when I really just got tired of being complacent and waiting on other people to do something, and I decided to start up a group here.”

His first step was to go to the MeetUp.com website and form a meet-up group for people in the Dallas area interested in promoting marriage equality to “gauge interest” in a marriage equality organization here. Crawford said he was surprised by the large number of straight allies who responded.

“I was really impressed by that,” he said. “It’s not just the gay community that cares about this.”

Although Dallas County has turned blue in recent elections, most of Texas remains decidedly red when it comes to political affiliations. And the Republican Party has, for the most part, stood firmly in opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage, especially in Texas where the state GOP platform even includes platforms calling for the return of sodomy laws and more.

But Crawford said he isn’t willing to concede the state to anti-gay forces.

“I think a lot of people in Texas have become complacent. They think, ‘Hey. It’s Texas. We can’t really do anything here to make a difference,’” he said.

“But the fact is, if it weren’t for two men from Houston who were willing to fight all the way to the Supreme Court, we’d still have sodomy laws on the books in this country. So that shows that change can get started in Texas, that we can accomplish things in Texas.

“And the first thing I think we need to do is make sure that our legislators in Austin know there is a huge group here in Texas that are for marriage equality. That is something we can do.”

The organizational meeting for Marriage Equality Dallas will be held Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Park Room at Park Towers, 3310 Fairmont St. The meeting is open to all interested persons.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tennessee DMV refuses to give woman a driver’s license with new last name after her legal same-sex marriage in D.C.

The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution says that each state has to respect the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings” of the other states in this country. Traditionally, that has been understood to include legally contracted marriages. But, of course, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act — or DOMA — which says the federal government will not recognize legal same-sex marriages and which allows individual states to refuse to  recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

So, we get situations like this, documented by WUSA9.com in in Washington, D.C.:

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has challenged that portion of DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages, and a decision is pending in a Massachusetts court in that case. And of course, a decision is also pending in a California federal court in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

There are other arguments for giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages and for requiring all states to recognize a legally contracted same-sex marriage from any state. Some arguments are based on the Constitution’s equal protection clause; some involve separation of church and state. And of course, there’s the basic idea of fairness — you know, that whole “liberty and justice for all” thing?

Who knows how it’s all going to wind up. But I am pretty sure it is going to take a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle it one way or another. And even that might not be the final word. One thing I do know, until it is settled, we’re going to keep hearing stories like Traci Turpin’s. And that is not fair.

—  admin