AG's brief in gay divorce case lacks references to man-horse marriage, man-dinosaur sex

As I reported in today’s Voice, Dallas’ 5th District Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in a high-profile same-sex divorce case, against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s wishes. I have to admit, when I went down to the courthouse last week to pick up copies of the hundreds of pages of briefs in this case, I was hoping to find that the AG’s office had made references to things like man-horse marriage or man-dinosaur sex. At the very least, it would have made for some great headlines. But what I found instead is that the AG’s office seems to go out of its way to be politically correct and avoid language that LGBT people might find offensive. At one point the AG’s office even states that “although people of good faith may reasonably differ on sensitive issues of public policy—states are well within their constitutional authority to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman …”

Still, given the nature of the case, it was impossible for the AG’s office to completely avoid arguments that might be considered inflammatory or just plain ignorant. Here’s an example from the AG’s brief opposing the gay divorce:

“Throughout centuries of human history and across diverse human civilizations, societies have recognized — and their governments have given legal effect and enforcement to — the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And the reason is neither complicated nor controversial: the naturally procreative relationship between a man and a woman deserves special societal support and protection — both to encourage procreation (without which society cannot survive), and to increase the likelihood that children will be raised by both of their parents, within the context of stable, long-term relationships — interests that are uniquely served through government recognition and enforcement of the union of one man and one woman. …

“In sum, the legal institution of marriage is about biology, not bigotry, much like the federal pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which protects women, not because the government favors women over men, but because of he basic biological realities about the nature of pregnancy and procreation. (To be sure, the state does not limit the institution of marriage to fertile unions of one man and one woman. But requiring evidence of fertility as a condition of marriage would be inconsistent with longstanding traditions respecting privacy).”

—  John Wright

Texas AG's Office says city of Fort Worth must 'out' witnesses to Rainbow Lounge raid

Not surprisingly, the Texas Attorney General’s Office has ruled that the city of Fort Worth must release the names of witnesses to the Rainbow Lounge raid as part of its investigative report into the incident. The city had sought to withhold the witnesses’ names, arguing that releasing them would amount to an invasion of privacy and cause people to speculate about their sexual orientation, given that the Rainbow Lounge is a gay bar. But in a decision dated Feb. 3, the AG’s Office rejected the city’s argument:

“Because of the nature of the incident that occurred at the Rainbow Lounge, the involvement of law enforcement personnel, and the ensuing internal investigation, the public has a legitimate interest in the identities of individuals who were present at the scene of the incident; therefore, the identities of the individuals must be released.”

As we’ve noted before, most if not all of the witnesses’ names had already been released by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, in its report about the incident, so this ruling doesn’t have much practical impact. Given that the law clearly wasn’t on its side, I view the city’s attempt to withhold the names as little more than a symbolic gesture, an olive branch to the LGBT community. In that respect, perhaps it was a good sign.

—  John Wright