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I local news
Two votes would have made
the difference in the Senate
VOTE, continued from Page 1
where he will be on the morning of
Wednesday, Nov. 6.
"On Wednesday morning, the law firm
of Nechman, Simoneaux and Frye will be
down at the federal courthouse with an
injunction," he said.
It's not a threat, Simoneaux said. It's a
House Joint Resolution 6, authored by
Texas Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa)
cleared the Texas House of
Representatives in April by a 101-29 vote. It
needed 100 votes to pass.
The Senate approved the measure on
May 21 by a vote of 21-8. The measure
needed 20 votes to clear the Senate.
Simoneaux said while he has many
concerns regarding the proposed amendment, he would have to start with the way
it is written.
The resolution states: "Marriage in
this state shall consist only of the union of
one man and one woman."
An amendment, added during House
debate by Chisum stipulates, "This state
or a political subdivision of this state may
not create or recognize any legal status
identical or similar to marriage."
"It's so poorly written," Simoneaux
said. "The wording, 'similar to marriage'
is undeniably vague. This could apply to
aU kinds of relationships."
In addition to possibly affecting common
law relationships, Simoneaux said, the bill
paves the way for someone who was legally
married in another state to come to Texas,
file for divorce and keep all the property
that was acquired by both partners.
"This is a legislative dog, and if you let
it out of its cage, it's going to bite us in the
ass," Simoneaux said. "It's going to be up
to us lawyers to put that dog down."
He noted that in states where voters
approved similar amendments, those measures are being struck down by the courts.
While Simoneaux is busy recruiting
gay civil rights organizations to join with
him if necessary on Nov. 6, others are hoping enough voters can be won over to vote
the bill down.
Activist Ray Hill said he views the upcoming election with a degree of optimism.
Houston could be key
"The biggest election in the state this
November is within the city of Houston,"
HU1 said. "The legislature has put us in
the very best position."
Because Mayor BUI White and Houston
City Controller are both up for re-election
in November, Hill said, he predicts the
largest voter turnout in the state will be in
Houston. He believes that's good.
In other cities throughout the state, he
said, the voter turnout is likely to be significantly less.
The burden, he said, is clearly on the
shoulders of gays and lesbians to turn the
tide on the issue.
"We're not closeted and hidden like we
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) was expected
to vote against House Joint Resolution 6, but he said
his Catholic faith led him to vote for the measure.
were early in my political career." he said.
"Our job, our responsibility is to talk to
our friends, our neighbors, our families,
our co-workers and make sure they go to
the polls and vote against this. Everybody
should be walking around with voter registration cards in their pocket."
Sen. Rodney EUis (D-Houston) attempted to stall the measure when it arrived at
the Senate, but his efforts were not successful. He said he opposed the resolution
because, "Texas does not need to enshrine
discrimination in the constitution."
He said the action in the House and
Senate takes him back to 1999 a proposed
Hate Crimes Act was being debated.
"In 1999, poll after poll showed that
Texans overwhelmingly wanted the
James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act to
become law, yet it did not," Ellis said. "In
fact, many of the people crying 'public
support' today worked their fingers to the
bone against the Byrd Act."
Ellis voted against HJR 6 in the Senate
along with Sens. Gonzalo Barrientos,
Juan Hinojosa, Eliot Shapleigh, Letitia
Van de Putte, Royce West, John Whitmirc
and Judith Zaffirini. Sens. Mario Gallegos
and John Corona were absent.
Two senators who were expected to also
vote against the resolution, Eddie Lucio,
Jr. of Brownsville and Frank Madia of
San Antonio, both Democrats, instead
voted in favor of the measure.
Activists with the Lesbian/Gay Rights
Lobby of Texas (LGRL) said those two
votes would have killed the resolution.
Lucio told the Brownsville Herald his
Catholic faith led him to vote with the
majority. Madia has said 63 percent of his
constituents indicated they were in favor
of the resolution, and that guided his vote.