Marriage equality will soon be a reality in Texas.
Joining the national movement behind marriage equality, Equality Texas has partnered with the American coalition group, Freedom To Marry, to launch Why Marriage Matters – Texas, a state-wide campaign effort to increase the level of public support in Texas for the freedom to marry.
“For the first time in a long time, marriage in Texas is moveable,” said field organizer for Equality Texas, Daniel Williams. “The public opinion is shifting our way. This is something we can actually dedicate resources to and have a realistic expectation of having results. We're gearing up to work in a concrete way to bring the freedom to marry to Texas.”
More below the jump.The year 2013 felt an enormous wave of marriage equality victories, with the number of states literally doubling from nine to eighteen in just one year. The LGBT civil rights movement also gained another very important victory last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory anti-gay sections of the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Poll after poll shows just how far — and how quickly — our nation is progressing towards achieving equal rights for those who are LGBT. Acceptance and progress can be seen in every group, all across the country — including Texas.
Texans, just like everyone else in the country, know and love people who are LGBT. Whether this is because they are our dear friends, family members, coworkers, or even people we see on TV, it is difficult to deprive others of their right to love when they are people we care about.
Why Marriage Matters – Texas will focus on storytelling as a way of further trying to change the hearts and minds of Texans.
“If we're going to be able to push the changes in public opinion beyond demographic shifts, we're going to have to go and talk to people about why our marriages matter, in the language of emotion and the language of human relationships,” Williams said. “You can spit statistics to people all day long, but what changes people's hearts and minds are personal stories of people affected by the issues.”
Equality Texas' Equality Poll 2013 showed a growing support for LGBT rights among Texas voters. For the first time a very minor plurality of Texas voters, 47.9% to 47.5%, now support marriage equality. Civil unions also hold a strong support by Texas voters at 64.7%.
The energy behind LGBT equality resonated strongly among Texas Democrats this year. Support was seen in both the Texas House and Senate this 83rd Legislative Session. Bills were filed to undo the constitutional same-sex marriage ban and allow the state to recognize same-sex unions. A marriage equality House bill — filed by state Representative Lon Burnam on Valentine's Day — gained the support of dozen of other co-sponsors.
While other Democratic leaders like Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte have not publicly come out in support of marriage equality — their strong support as allies of the LGBT community make it very easy to guess what side of history they're on.
But it is not only Democrats personally affected by the issues of LGBT discrimination. Republicans are also just as personally affected, regardless of whether they wish to acknowledge this or not (i.e. Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman last year). Support from Republicans will only grow if they are visibly made aware they too have a personal investment in supporting equality.
The recent marriage cases in Utah and Ohio signal the inevitable move towards marriage equality nationwide. Texas has it's own pending marriage cases challenging the state's constitutional same-sex marriage ban this year, as well as same-sex benefits cases coming from Houston.
Marriage equality will happen in Texas. It's only a matter of time now.