Texas Republicans Trying to Revoke Transgender Marriage Rights
Texas was one of the last states in the US to allow transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to obtain marriage licenses. Now Republican lawmakers in the Lone Star State are trying to take that right away. According to the Associated Press and Raw Story, they’re sponsoring a bill that would bar district clerks from accepting the court order that recognizes proof of sex change as legal documentation for marriage licenses.
SB 723, co-sponsored by state Senator Tommy Williams of Houston and state Representative Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, both Republicans, would effectively require the state to recognize a 1999 state appeals court ruling that affirmed that gender is determined at birth– for life. Thus, a baby born male will remain male in the eyes of the law for as long as the person lives, regardless of whether or not that person later identifies as a woman and undergoes sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). Such an outlook is extremely ignorant of the complexities of gender identity in transgendered individuals.
“If SB 723 gets a favorable vote it will enshrine Littleton v Prange (the 1999 ruling) logic– you are what the doctor put on your birth certificate– into Texas State law,” Meghan Stabler of the Human Rights Campaign told Raw Story.
“It appears the goal is to try to enshrine a really horrifying ruling and making it law in the state of Texas,” John Nechman, a Houston lawyer who represents clients in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community told the AP.
“This bill is unprecedented anywhere in the country,” attorney Shannon Price Minter of the Transgender Law & Policy Institute told Raw Story. “No state has ever passed a law recognizing the existence of transgender people, then tried to take it back,” he added.
But Texas Governor Rick Perry, who says he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk, shockingly admitted he never intended to permit transgendered people to get married. Perry, a Republican, says SB 723 is an effort to “clarify the unintended consequences” of the law that legalized proof of sex change as valid documentation to obtain marriage licenses.
“The governor has always believed and advocated that marriage is between a man and a woman,” gubernatorial spokesman Mark Miner stated.
Speaking of consequences, if this bill passes, married transgendered Texans could very well see their marriages nullified. One high-profile case involving Nikki Araguz, a transgendered woman married to a fireman killed in the line of duty, illustrates the possible pitfalls: the deceased’s family has sued Araguz to prevent her from gaining control of his $600,000 estate, claiming the marriage should have been void because she was born male. “This is crazy,” Araguz told the AP. “I feel like this is a personal attack on me. If this bill passed, it essentially means women like myself who have had reconstructive surgery will not be allowed to marry their heterosexual partner.”
“It would be terrible for Texas, now that if finally caught up with the rest of the country, to take a step back,” Minter told the AP.
But with a Republican-controlled House and Senate and a GOP governor, transgendered Texans might as well kiss their marriage rights goodbye. Such is the state of “compassionate conservatism” in the state that invented it.
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