Couples who got a license but hadn’t wed were invited to get hitched. Had a couple already gotten married, they were invited to share their stories.
Three couples stood up and shared their stories. After their humorous and touching speeches, the invaluable — and, as he noted, single — David Mack Henderson, president of Fairness Fort Worth, shared his experiences helping local couples get hitched.
While my intent was to share photos from the meeting, my camera card unfortunately thought otherwise. But I do have a few takeaways worth noting.
First, it turned out for the best I couldn’t get photos. One man approached me after the meeting adjourned requesting their photos not appear on the site. His husband is “insecure in the workplace,” he said. Whether because he fears losing his job or for some other reason, I don’t know. But I know LGBT Texans can still be fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Texas is, in fact, one of 28 states that doesn’t protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination aside from a few federal protections.
Texas is also among the 29 states without laws protecting LGBT individuals in public accommodations. Cities like Dallas and Fort Worth have made strides to protect their citizens from being denied service, or face harassment, from the grocery store to the doctor’s office. But I’d avoid going to any bakery owned by Rep. Molly White, R-Belton.
As the saying goes, you can get married at night but still be fired from your job the next morning.
This past legislative session, legislators filed or sponsored nearly 40 anti-LGBT bills. Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, filed two bills criminalizing transgender individuals for using a bathroom. Rep. Gilbert Pena, R-Pasadena, filed similar bills. Rep. White, as we learned, won a gold star for filing legislation legalizing discrimination against any groups not straight, white, Protestant and Republican — so, like, everyone.
After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the statements started pouring in. Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, author of numerous bills barring state recognition of same-sex marriages, lead the crusade. He announced the “Pact for Constitutional Restoration of State Sovereignty” on Monday, July 6 in response to the ruling.
David Simpson, a Longview Republican running for an open state senate seat, denounced the ruling and called for a special session abolishing government issuance of marriage licenses altogether. I don’t oppose the latter idea, though I prefer that decision not come following the Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, yesterday (Monday, July 13), he went even further, calling on the state’s Republican leadership to address the consequences of the ruling. He was furious state employee benefits were now extended to same-sex spouses.
For the record, Simpson has yet to be endorsed by a single socially conservative group. His primary opponent in the senate race, Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, has received those honors.
Not all Republicans denounced the decision of course. But if it helps with fundraising, why not throw shade at two individuals of the same gender in love?
During the meeting, Henderson told a harrowing and touching story about a local couple just wanting to get married. The situation wasn’t easy though. As far as I remember it, a HIV-positive, 60 percent deaf undocumented man was jailed. His partner wanted to avoid deportation. David helped them find an avenue to get married. (Knowing Henderson, he’ll chime in the comments below, which I would prefer he do. The story is at once tragic and beautiful.)
Before I left, a straight ally approached two friends and I. He was thrilled by the decision, he said, but the fight isn’t over yet.
I’ve harped on this before but he’s right. Until we’re all equal, the rainbow is frankly just one color.