In the wake of a recent court ruling declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, students should support the legalization of these unions both within the state and across the country.
On Feb. 26, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, the ban remains in place as the case is pending possible appeal from a higher court. Although Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has publically stated his office will work to appeal the ruling, students should stand by the judge’s decision. Lifting the ban on same-sex marriage would be a positive step for Texas, which has historically been conservative.
Abbott, who is running for governor, is using a push to appeal the ruling as a way to prove his deep conservative roots and therefore secure the “red” vote in Texas. However, denying marriages to same-sex couples should not be a tactic used to gather votes and prove a point. In February 2010, only 30 percent of respondents opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. According to these numbers, Abbott’s hardline stance against same-sex marriage is not likely to earn him a majority of votes in the gubernatorial race.
Marriage is a basic right that should be granted to residents of any state, period. The numbers of those who are staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage are decreasing rapidly and even among that group many have begun to accept the inevitability of its legalization. The timeline of how quickly same-sex marriage will be legalized is a matter of how tightly the state will hold onto its archaic ideas defining “traditional” unions.
Reversing the ban on same-sex marriage will signal drastic change, making waves throughout the state and the nation. If such a conservative state takes a stance to grant marriages to same-sex couples, other states that have previously refused to budge on their viewpoints may be more apt to embracing a new mindset. Even if Garcia’s ruling is overturned in appellate court, similar cases have already been brought to district judges. For example, a Plano couple is suing Abbott and Governor Rick Perry, among others, in an attempt to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage. This couple is not alone in taking legal action, and others are sure to follow.
Texas State’s faculty senators have already shown support for providing employee benefits for those who have “federally recognized marriages,” according to a Jan. 23 University Star article. Senators did not specifically state the term “same-sex” when discussing benefits, and now is their chance to publically stand by Garcia’s ruling at the university level. The timeliness of the court ruling gives the senate a unique chance to back fellow professors in same-sex unions.
In the U.S., 17 of 50 states have legalized same-sex marriage. There is no reason Texas should not join those ranks soon. If Texas State students and faculty make a stand, perhaps they can contribute to the eventual legalization of same-sex marriage both in Texas and nationwide, a feat that, in the editorial board’s opinion, cannot come soon enough.