8 APRIL 11, 2003
www.houston voice.com HOUSTON VOICE
TX House vote on DOMA could come any day
TX DOMA. continued from Page 1
Daniel Graney of San Antonio took
offense to the bill. He said he and his partner of 29 years pay taxes and their bills,
vote and live like any married couple, even
though they can't get married.
"Now the Texas state Legislature wants
to pass a law that tells me that my 29-year
relationship with the one I love has no
value whatsoever and I find that deeply
offensive and hurtful." Graney said.
Ellis urged lawmakers to vote against
the legislation, saying Texas law already
prohibits gays and lesbians from obtaining
a marriage license in Texas.
Ellis said he believed the legislation
reinforces "the fact that gay and lesbian
Texans are regarded as second class.
"We must stand up to state sponsored
discrimination," he said. "Gays and lesbians are denied hundreds of rights and
privileges that heterosexuals enjoy. Tax
exemptions, legal protections, the right to
make medical decisions for our partner —
there are literally hundreds and hundreds
of rights and benefits that we do not have.
"If we try to protect ourselves with
legal documents, it can cost thousands of
dollars," Ellis added. "The second-class
status that has been cast upon gays and lesbians must come to an end."
Wentworth said the bill does not diminish "my feeling of respect and even love for
friends and acquaintances and people that
I know who are gay I have great respect for
those people," he said. "This bill has nothing to do with that."
The bill passed on a 7-1 vote. Sen. Rodney
Ellis, D-Houston, voted against the bill.
"The Senate has decided to fuel the
fires of discrimination," Ellis said. "This
bill does nothing more than create a hostile environment toward lesbian and gay
Texans. We have a budget crisis, an insurance crisis and a school finance crisis.
Texas would be better served by our legislators making policy that supports Texas
On Monday, the House Committee on
State Affairs approved legislation that
would ban the state from recognizing
same-sex civil unions — a House version of
a state DOMA. That proposal now moves to
the full House for a vote.
In the House, the act is known as House
Bill 38 and is sponsored by Rep. Warren
Chisum. R-Pamp'a. The bill passed committee 6-2, with Reps. Glenn Lewis, D-Fort
Worth, and Mike Villarreal, D-San
Antonio, casting the "no" votes.
Ellis said the Texas Legislature, led by a
Republican majority, now is particularly
unfriendly to gays, as evidenced by bills
"It's not the same as it was the past 10
years." Ellis said. "We can no longer 'skate'
in that we [no longer] have friends in high
"Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar
cannot carry the weight of the GLBT
community on their shoulders," he
added. "I really hope that this serves as a
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, was the only member
of the Senate Committee on State Affairs to vote
against the anti-gay Senate Bill 7 last week, known
as a Defense of Marriage Act.
Gay activists call state
DOMA slap in the face'
Gay activists including the LGRL's Ellis
have called the state DOMA proposals
"redundant" and "a slap in the face" to gay
Texans, pointing out that federal legislation already allows states to refuse to
honor same-sex unions.
Congress approved and President Bill
Clinton signed the federal Defense of
Marriage Act in 1996 to prohibit federal
recognition of gay marriages. DOMA also
purports to grant states the right not to
recognize same-sex marriages performed
in other states.
The federal law also creates a definition of marriage as a "legal union
between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
Vermont is the only state that recognizes same-sex civil unions. Since
Vermont approved its bill in 2000, lawmakers in five states — California,
Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island and
Washington — have introduced civil union
legislation, according to the National Gay
& Lesbian Task Force.
On the other hand, 36 states across the
country have enacted laws in recent years
that limit legal recognition of civil marriages to heterosexual couples.
Dozens of legislators have signed onto
the Texas House DOMA proposal.
Lawmakers who have signed as joint
authors to the bill are Charlie Geren (R-
River Oaks), Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin),
Scott Campbell (R-San Angelo) and Chuck
Among the Texas House members who
signed as co-authors to the Chisum DOMA
bill are several Harris County lawmakers:
District 132 Rep. Bill Callegari (R-
Houston), District 127 Rep. Joe Crabb (R-
Kingwood), District 129 Rep. John Davis (R-
Houston). District 133 Rep. Joe Nixon (R-
Houston), and District 128 Rep. Wayne
Sen. Jeff Wentwortti, R-San Antonio, said his
DOMA bill is designed to 'encourage and protect'
traditional marriage between one man and one
Last session, a Texas Defense of
Marriage Act was passed out of the
Senate, but failed to make it out of committee in the House, LGRL officials noted.
Lobbyists contend that the shift in the balance of power in the House after the
November elections increases the possibility of this session's bill passing both
chambers of the Legislature.
Number of gay-focused bills
are on Legislature's agenda
A number of measures related to gay
Texans have been filed before the current
legislature, in its 78tn session. In addition
to the House and Senate DOMA measures,
those bills include:
• H.B. 194, filed on Nov. 15 by Rep. Robert
Talton (R-Pasadena). This bill would disqualify gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in
Texas from serving as foster parents.
H.B. 194 was referred on Feb. 6 to the
Juvenile Justice & Family Affairs
Committee. Chair of that panel is Harold
V. Dutton Jr. of Houston, a Democrat.
Rep. Chisum and Rep. Fred Hill. R-
Richardson, signed on as co-authors to
Talton's bill as of March 6.
. • H.B. 574, filed on Jan. 27 by Rep.
Jessica Farrar (D-Houston). This measure
would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or
The pro-gay H.B. 574 was referred to the
Business & Industry Committee on Feb. 11.
Chair of that committee is Rep. Helen
Giddings of DeSoto, a Democrat. A public
hearing was held on March 25 on the bill,
which remains pending in committee.
At the public hearing, Farrar explained
that the measure is not revolutionary
"Currently, 13 states and the District of
Columbia offers similar protections to
their citizens," Farrar said. "More than
300 of the Fortune 500 companies have
policies in place that protect workers
against discrimination in the work place.
It is good public policy, good for business
and good for Texas."
State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-
Houston) signed on as a joint author to
• H.B. 862, filed by Coleman on Feb. 11.
This measure, also known as the Dignity
for All Students Act, would protect Texas
students from discrimination based on
characteristics including race, religion
and sexual orientation.
H.B. 862 was referred to the Public
Education Committee on Feb. 18. Chair of
that committee is Rep. Kent Grusendorf of
Arlington, a Republican. Members of the
panel include Rep. Scott Hochberg of
Houston, a Democrat.
Farrar signed on as a joint author to the
Dignity for All Students Act about a week
after it was filed.
• H.B. 916, filed on Feb. 12 by state Rep.
Sid Miller (R-Stephenville). He calls the
bill the Defense of Families Act; it would
prevent two people of the same sex from
filing a joint petition for adoption of a
H.B. 916 was referred to the Juvenile
Justice & Family Affairs Committee, just
as Talton's H.B. 194 was sent to that panel.
To date, no other lawmakers have
signed on as sponsors, co-authors or joint
authors to Miller's proposal.
• H.B. 1136, filed on Feb. 20 and referred
to the State Affairs Committee on Feb. 26,
was proposed by Democrat Villarreal.
The legislation that would ban discrimination in housing and employment
based on sexual orientation. It defines
sexual orientation as "having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality
or bisexuality: having a history of such a
preference; or being identified as having
such a preference."
It also states: "This Act may not be construed to mean that this state condones
homosexuality, bisexuality, or any equivalent lifestyle."
If passed, the legislation would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire,
or otherwise discriminating against anyone based on sexual orientation.
The bill also would make it illegal to
refuse to sell or rent property based on sexual orientation. The sexual orientation legislation proposal also lays out rules for
hotel and motel operators, realtors, labor
unions, employment agencies and advertising publishers.
• H.B. 1911, filed by Talton, would prevent unmarried Texans from serving as
foster parents. It was referred to the State
Affairs Committee on March 12 and has
no other legislators signed on as coauthors to date.
The Associated Priiss-OTiWhrW to this story.
ft MORE INFO
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas
P0 Box 2340
Austin, TX 78768