November 21, 2013 – This week, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is an open lesbian and has been celebrated by her supporters as the first openly lesbian mayor of a large city, has directed city staff to violate the Texas Constitution on the definition of marriage in Texas. In a memo dated November 19, 2013, Mayor Parker has directed Omar Reid, Director of the City of Houston Human Resources Department, to violate the Texas Constitution by giving legal status and recognition to same-sex marriage in Texas. Specifically, Mayor Parker made the following statement: “[I] am hereby directing that same-sex spouses of employees who have been legally married in another jurisdiction be afforded the same benefits as spouses of a heterosexual marriage.”
“It’s outrageous that Mayor Parker and the City of Houston think they have the authority to rewrite the Texas Constitution on marriage and blatantly ignore their citizen approved city charter. Mayor Parker’s self-serving efforts to force city staff to willfully violate the Texas Constitution is one of the most dangerous and egregious forms of a Washington-style power grab I have ever seen. She’s practically telling Governor Perry, Attorney General Abbott and the people of Texas to ‘Come and Take It’,” said Jonathan Saenz, president and attorney of Texas Values.
The memo by Mayor Parker also references a legal memo and conclusion by City Attorney David Feldman as the support for the illegal change in the city policy. The memo by Feldman concedes that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage does not deprive Texas from its right to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Mr. Feldman goes further to point out that Texas law clearly “prohibits political subdivisions of the state from giving effect to:… a [r]ight or claim to any legal protection, benefit, or responsibility asserted as a result of a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or any jurisdiction.” Mr. Feldman bases his recommendation for this single-handed change on his belief that Texas law is unconstitutional.
In addition to clear Texas law, Houston’s own city charter passed by the citizens in 2001 prohibits the city from offering benefits to same-sex couples. Although the Texas Supreme Court is currently reviewing the issue of recognition of same-sex divorce, it is widely believed that the all Republican nine member Court will certainly do nothing to disturb the clear language of our constitution and protect our state sovereignty.