Prop Two Could Solidify State's Marriage Law

A constitutional amendment that would strengthen the State's current law against gay marriage is up for vote in next month's election, a proposed measure that has the attention of people on both sides of the issue. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams has more on proposition 2 and what it means for voters.

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The amendment would establish a historic definition of marriage in Texas, that of a union between a man and a woman, and exclude from that definition a union between same sex couples. Instead of a simple statute approved by the state legislature, the amendment would fortify the current law and make it tougher to repeal. "By having a constitutional amendment that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage, what you're saying to the legislature is you no longer have the power to overturn that law," says South Texas College of Law professor Paul McGreal. "That law is going to sit there and it can't be changed by just an ordinary majority vote of a legislature. You still have to go back to the people through the referendum process and amend the constitution to make that change."

Although experts say a constitutional amendment would not hold more weight than a statute on appeal before a higher court, the proposition would make it clear where the state stood on the issue. South Texas College of Law professor Gerald Treece says it would put Texas solidly on record against gay marriage. "It is not legal in the state of Texas for two people of the same gender to be married. But this constitutional amendment will add I think more force to the argument that Texas would not recognize a same-sex marriage even if it's recognized in another state," he says.

For some, Proposition 2 feels like an attack with no real purpose. Stephen Milano of Houston has been with the same partner for the past 14 years and the couple has two adopted children. He says the law already says he can't marry his partner. "Why are we spending time and energy trying to say that I really, really can't get married and in fact could make it even harder for me to protect the family that I have now. It's unnecessary and it will do damage and we're talking about in a session where the legislature couldn't even get through its own school finance reform, yet it found time to do this, that will help nobody," says Milano.

But supporters of Proposition 2, like Church On The Rock pastor Jorge Cardenas of Katy, say the amendment would shore-up the state's stand for morality and against gay marriage. "We want to make sure that the definition stays and there's no question or doubt about it for the future of our children and grandchildren. Our state, the state of Texas, is a very conservative state and we want to keep it that way," says Cardenas.

Voters go to the polls November 8th. A vote for Proposition Two would in effect be a vote against gay marriage. A vote against the proposition would be a vote in support of gay marriage, although it would not change the current statute against gay marriage in Texas.

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