Lesbian couple denied marriage license in Dallas; 3 arrested at clerk’s office in Austin

GetEQUAL's Daniel Cates, left, speaks to County Clerk John Warren, right, as lesbian couple Hendrix Scott and Jennifer McClusky look on. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Hendrix Scott and Jennifer McClusky applied for a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk’s office today. More than a dozen people came to witness the couple applying for their license, including nine members of Occupy Dallas.

“I have to inform you that in the state of Texas same-sex marriage is not legal, so we will not be issuing your license today,” an employee in the clerk’s office told the couple.

The couple asked to speak to her superior, and County Clerk John Warren showed up.

GetEQUAL North Texas regional coordinator Daniel Cates told Warren: “We’re asking you to break the law equally. Uphold the letter of the law and stop issuing licenses to everyone.”

Cates claim that Warren isn’t upholding the law comes from the wording of the amendment to the Texas Constitution that reads, “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Cates said that the only thing identical to marriage is marriage, which makes all marriage in Texas illegal under the law. Warren disagreed.

“It refers to anyone other than a person born as a man and a person born as a woman,” Warren said of state law.

“We’ll be back monthly until that changes,” Cates said.

Warren spent some time talking to the group and said he personally supports equality. He said not allowing people to put their partners on company insurance policies makes no sense and costs taxpayers money if people end up at Parkland hospital, for example.

When Warren mentioned his religious objection to same-sex marriage, Cates told him: “I can get a religious marriage right now. Lots of churches in Dallas would perform a wedding for me. It’s civil marriage I want.”

Cates, left, gives Paula Blackmon a bundle of cards for the mayor

After leaving the Dallas County Records Building, Cates walked to Dallas City Hall to deliver 400 Valentines to Mayor Mike Rawlings. The Valentines were collected by GetEQUAL and Resource Center Dallas to encourage the mayor to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, greeted Cates at City Hall and promised to deliver the cards to the mayor.

Elsewhere

In Austin, three people were arrested at the Travis County Courthouse according to GetEQUAL state lead Michael Diviesti. Tiffany Bishop and her partner Iana DiBona and witness Brittney Tovar were arrested after the couple was denied a license. The three refused to leave the clerk’s office. Other couples left to perform a wedding ceremony outside the building.

Several couples planned to go to the Tarrant County Courthouse this afternoon to apply for their marriage licenses.

For more coverage of marriage equality demonstrations around the state, go here.

—  David Taffet

Maryland senator does a 180 on gay marriage

Sen. Jim Brochin

Maryland State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat, used to say that while he supported civil unions for same-sex couples, he did not support full marriage rights for those couples. This week, he changed his mind and said he will vote for legislation giving full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Why? Because he listened.

First of all, Brochin listened to the stories of same-sex couples when they testified during public hearings in favor of the proposed Religious Marriage and Civil Marriage Protection Act. But most importantly, he listened to those who testified against the bill. And he was appalled by what he heard.

“The people who are against the bill, all they did was demonize homosexuality, call them pedophiles, androids, and I just, I can’t oppose the bill and be on the same side as people who would do that,” Brochin told AM 630 WMAL radio in explaining his change of heart. “It’s destructive, it’s insulting to the same-sex families who are trying to raise their kids.”

The bill needs 24 votes to pass the Maryland Senate and 29 to avoid any debate. Brochin’s decision makes him the 21st senator to publicly pledge support, and he said this week he believes the bill has a good chance of passing.

—  admin

Over the weekend while I was reading the Klan's website…

KlanFred Phelps is apparently too extreme for the Ku Klux Klan.

Here’s what they say on their website:

News Release

Disclaimer :

NOTE: The Ku Klux Klan, LLC. has not or EVER will have ANY connection with The “Westboro Baptist Church”. We absolutely repudiate their activities.

Actually, that’s really not too surprising. Phelps has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But what surprised me over the weekend, while I was reading the Ku Klux Klan’s website, was that on the issue of same-sex marriage, they’re to the left of the official platform position of the Republican Party.

On same-sex marriage (click here for their full statement), they say:

We define Marriage as: a religious solemnization of vows between one man and one woman. Even those performed by a Justice of the Peace or Judge are not, by our understanding “marriages” but rather civil ceremonies (unions). We see no issue with civil unions for homosexuals or those who choose to avoid Holy Wedlock.

In other words, the Klan believes that “marriages” are performed by churches. “Civil unions” are performed by government. A justice of the peace does not perform a marriage, they claim, just a civil union.The legal rights we have come from the civil union. And it’s OK for gays and lesbians to get the same civil union straight people get when they take out a license at city hall.

And that’s exactly what the gay and lesbian community has been arguing since the marriage debate began. Separate civil marriage from religious marriage.

Now, just in case anyone thinks they’re embracing the LGBT community, they’re not. Their membership requirements state, “Under NO circumstances will we accept for membership: homosexuals, atheists, or those who have been found mentally insane.” I’d get tossed out on several other counts. There’s that Jewish thing. And dating people of other races thing.

I guess my favorite part of the website is where they explain how accepting gays goes against “Judeo-Christian values.” Hmmm … I wonder how they explain Israel recognizing same-sex marriages performed where they are legal? Or isn’t Israel Judeo enough for them?

—  David Taffet