Austin, Texas (February 11, 2013) – State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen (D-20) today filed legislation [SB 480] to partially repeal Texas’ “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which was added to the state’s Family Code in 2003. DOMA denies same-gender Texans in committed relationships the freedom to marry or enter into a civil union. The legislation filed by Senator Hinojosa would remove the prohibition of civil unions and provide for the establishment of civil unions for same-gender couples granting them “the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under the law as are granted to spouses in a marriage.”
If enacted, SB 480 would provide some important legal protections for same-gender couples, including property rights, homestead rights, child custody and support, adoption, intestate succession, probate transfers, group insurance for state employees, and workers’ compensation benefits.
The legislation would take effect in 2014, but only if the constitutional amendment proposed last week by Senator Jose Rodriguez [SJR 29], Rep. Rafael Anchia [HJR 77] or Rep. Garnet Coleman [HJR 78] is approved by voters. SJR 29, HJR 77 or HJR 78 would repeal the 2005 Texas Marriage Amendment which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prohibits recognition of anything similar to marriage, including civil unions.
Statement of Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith:
“We believe that every Texas family should be able to take care of those they love. Today’s action by Senator Hinojosa is a landmark first step in the process of dismantling Texas’ discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” and charting us on a path toward full equality.
Equality Texas supports full equality and the freedom to marry. Our work for equal recognition of all Texas families will not be complete until the discriminatory Texas Marriage Amendment is repealed from the State Constitution and DOMA is fully repealed from the State Family Code, thus allowing committed same-gender couples the freedom to marry.
Until then, this legislation would provide committed couples with some of the important protections they need in order to take care of their families.”