‘Domestic Partnerships’ Violate Texas Constitution, Say Constitutional Experts
Texas Values, ADF Submit Joint Brief to Texas Attorney General
Austin, Texas, Dec. 6, 2012 – Texas Values and Alliance Defending Freedom submitted a brief Thursday to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, requesting that his office find the Pflugerville Independent School District and other local governmental entities in violation of the Texas Constitution.
PISD and other local governments are creating and recognizing a new legal status of “domestic partnerships” as a method to offer marital benefits to unmarried government employees in direct violation of the Texas Marriage Amendment.
“Pflugerville ISD and other local governmental entities in Texas are blatantly violating the Texas Constitution and the will of the Texas people,” said Jonathan Saenz, attorney and president of Texas Values. “The language of the Texas Constitution and its legislative intent are crystal clear on this issue.”
“No local government should create a legal status similar to marriage when the Texas Constitution clearly prohibits it. The voters of Texas wanted to protect against marriage imitations for very good public policy reasons. We trust that Attorney General Abbott will agree,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks.
The joint brief is in response to General Abbott’s confirmation that his office will issue an opinion on the matter in 180 days. Texas State Senator Dan Patrick made a request for the opinion on Nov. 2 largely in response to PISD’s decision in October to extend insurance benefits to same-sex “domestic partners.” By a 76 percent vote, Texas voters amended the Texas Constitution in 2005 to affirm marriage as one man and one woman and to ensure that “[t]his state, or a political subdivision of this state, may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
Abbott’s opinion could have enormous statewide impact as El Paso County, Travis County, the city of Fort Worth, the city of Austin, the city of San Antonio, and the city of El Paso have also created legal statuses “identical or similar to marriage.”
At an October PISD School Board meeting, a letter from State Representative Warren Chisum, author of the Texas Marriage Amendment, was presented to the PISD school board but has resulted in no change in the district’s policy so far. PISD Board Member Jimmy Don Havins has indicated that he will request the “domestic partnership” policy be added as an agenda item for PISD’s Dec. 13 public meeting. Havins says he will ask for the new policy to be rescinded by an “up or down vote.”