The Texas Legislature would like for you to stay just exactly as you are, thank you very much.
Two years after Texas became one of the last states to allow transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license, Republican lawmakers are trying to roll back the clock.
Advocates for the transgendered say a proposal to bar transgendered people from getting married smacks of discrimination and would put their legally-granted marriages in danger of being nullified if challenged in court.
One of the Republican sponsors of the legislation said he’s simply trying to clean up the 2009 law in a state that bans same-sex marriage under the Constitution.
“The Texas Constitution,” Sen. Tommy Williams said, “clearly defines marriage between one man and one woman.”
Williams said he understands that some people’s gender cannot easily be determined when they are born and they later have an operation that could change the originally assigned gender.
“It is an emotional issue,” Williams said. “I can appreciate that.”
But when asked about claims of discrimination, Williams insisted his goal is to simplify marriage licensing for clerks who are trying to balance the 2009 law with the 1999 Texas appeals court ruling.
“They shouldn’t have to resolve these issues,” Williams said.
“We have confused them.”
Williams’ legislation has cleared a committee vote and now awaits approval by the full Senate, which is predominantly Republican. The version in the GOP-dominated House has not yet been given a hearing.
Some advocates for the transgendered say that even if the legislation is passed, transgendered people could still get marriage licenses using other state and federally-issued documents such as a drivers’ license or passport. But without the weight of a court order officially recognizing their gender reassignment, they worry any legal challenge, such as a divorce or estate dispute, would nullify the marriage.
“We want to be recognized as people. We want to have the same rights as all of you,” Lisa Scheps of the Transgender Education Network of Texas said at a March hearing on Williams’ bill. No one testified in favor of the legislation.
See here and here for some background. Williams’ bill is SB723; its companion bill is HB3098 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst. All it does is strike the words “or sex change” from the section of the law that allows “an original or certified copy of a court order relating to the applicant’s name change” as proof of identity for a marriage license. While Williams’ bill has been voted out of committee (Kolkhorsts’ bill has not had a committee hearing yet), it’s not on the Senate calendar, and I’d think there’s at least a decent chance it could get blocked by Senate Democrats, if it gets onto the Senate calendar. I don’t know how high a priority this is for Republicans. With any luck, it’ll die on the vine.
I don’t know what else there is to say about this. I believe the concerns that transgendered people will get married anyway with other forms of ID then be exposed to legal jeopardy in the event of divorce or other court proceedings are almost certain to come true. We wouldn’t have these problems if we had marriage equality in this state. Some day, when we do, we’ll marvel at all the gyrations that those who opposed it will have gone through to hold onto their outdated and unjust ways. That day cannot come soon enough. Thanks to Hair Balls for the link.