Even though a “traditional” marriage amendment passed in Texas yesterday, and a similar amendment is likely to pass in Virginia in 2006, I’m not distressed. I’m nowhere near last year’s level of frustration because the past twelve months showed that the “losses” in this debate are short-term. Freedom has always prevailed over legalized bigotry and it will again. Instead, I’m inclined to amuse myself with the tangential aspects of the debate. From DailyKos comes this statement:
An anti-gay marriage amendment in Texas passed easily (even though it may hilariously invalidate every marriage).
I hadn’t read the text of the amendment before reading that comment, so I looked it up. The ballot language was this:
“The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
No shocker there, of course, but it doesn’t match any remote idea of a controversial interpretation. I followed the link to the amendment’s text for the answer. Here it is:
SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:
Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
SECTION 2. This state recognizes that through the designation of guardians, the appointment of agents, and the use of private contracts, persons may adequately and properly appoint guardians and arrange rights relating to hospital visitation, property, and the entitlement to proceeds of life insurance policies without the existence of any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
Section 2 reads as nothing short of a concession that some legal rights must exist. The obvious question is why Texas won’t set aside the charade that they’ve saved marriage by denying gays and lesbians access to the same civil institution, while allegedly conferring the same legal abilities. But that’s more a head-shaker than anything else. The point of the DailyKos comment is Section 1 (b).
As always, I’m not an attorney, but I understand how the amendment’s wording could lead to a different interpretation from the meaning. The text is awful, but I don’t think this will lead to any nullification of marriage. It requires the reader to insert a bit of context to interpret it the way it’s meant, but it requires just as much to interpret it broadly. With the current judicial activism nonsense, I can’t imagine a Texas judge reading the broader meaning from the text. (How this isn’t legislative activism is an appropriate question.)
An opponent could make the argument that reading the intended meaning out of that text is judicial activism, as well, and I’m inclined to agree. However, I don’t believe that argument will stick, so it’d be an energy expense with little payoff beyond intellectual entertainment. I love those scenarios, but I’m a little strange.
As an aside, if I were a Kossack, I’d be more concerned that the election post carried the title “Weird. We Won. Onward to 2006!”. When your party wins an election, you shouldn’t be surprised. Especially when taking the Governor’s mansion in both elections means handing the keys from the current Democrat to the new Democrat. Being surprised implies acceptance of permanent minority status. That’s not really leadership-oriented thinking, no?
(Source: Balloon Juice)