Texas Democrat Refiles Marriage Equality Bill

     AUSTIN (CN) – A lawmaker has refiled a bill seeking to legalize same-sex marriages in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the Defense of Marriage Act.
     Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, submitted House Bill 20 on July 1, the first day of a second consecutive special session that Gov. Rick Perry called. The bill is nearly identical to a bill that died before reaching committee after Burnam filed it in the Legislature’s regular session.
     Burnam said it is time for Texas to “renounce our homophobic state laws and usher in marriage equality.”
     HB 20 would echo the recent findings of the Supreme Court in striking down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
     “The Supreme Court found today that the federal government acted to ‘impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages,'” Burnam said on his website on June 26. “I can assure you the Texas Legislature did the same,” Burnam said on his website.”It is the shame of our state that we continually have to wait for a federal judge to make us do the right thing. It happened with segregated schools, segregated parks and segregated housing.”
     The refiled bill faces virtually no chance of success. Perry never stipulated marriage equality rights as an item on the agenda of the special session, which includes bills on restricting abortions, funding state highways and sentencing of minors. Furthermore, Texas voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2005.
     Burnam nevertheless said on his Facebook page that “granting rights to all Texans is more urgent than imposing restrictions on women’s health and liberty.”
     His bill also seeks to repeal the ban on recognizing same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states.
     First elected in 1990, Burnam represents District 90, which includes large sections of northwest, south and southeast Fort Worth.
     Perry called the second special session after Rep. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibustered on the final day of the first special session to stop the passage of a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and closed all but five abortion clinics in the state.

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