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Texas Democratic Party officials again say "no" to marriage equality
QSanAntonio.com, February 18, 2012

At its February 11 meeting in Austin, the State Democratic Executive Committee voted against a marriage equality referendum on the Democratic Primary ballot. This is the second time the SDEC said "no" to marriage equality in the past four months.

The first time occurred on November 19, 2011, when the SDEC voted 33-21 against including a marriage equality referendum on the primary ballot. (See related story below.)

This time the "no" vote came on a procedural matter. Garry Brown, an SDEC member from Austin, made a motion to bring back the marriage equality resolution for reconsideration in general session. State Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie ruled Brown's motion out of order “because this was already voted on at the last SDEC meeting and was defeated.”

Brown appealed Chairman Richie's ruling. A voice vote was taken on the appeal. The outcome of the voice vote was unclear and a division of the house was called. Only 16 members stood in support of the appeal and more than 40 stood in support of the Chairman's ruling.

"I am very disappointed in the leadership of the Texas Democratic Party," said Daniel Graney, President of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus.

"Many of these SDEC officials privately tell LGBT Democrats that they are with us on marriage equality and yet, they vote against us in public. Some of these officials who voted against us are LGBT, which makes this even more disgusting. The SDEC is clearly on the wrong side of history here."

Texas Democrats will not vote on marriage equality in March primary
By Dan Graney, QSanAntonio.com, November 21, 2011

Members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) of the Texas Democratic Party voted to include referenda on the 2012 Democratic Primary ballot, but a measure advocating for marriage equality was not one of them. A vote to include the marriage equality referendum was defeated by a vote of 33-22 at the SDEC's general meeting in Austin on November 19.

Proponents of including referenda on the primary ballot argued that this would boost voter turnout, especially among young people and other Democratic “base” voters, in an election year in which President Barack Obama is not being challenged for re-election within his own party. Referenda on social issues have appeared on the Republican Primary ballot in at least the last two elections. Democrats had not included referenda on their primary ballot in years.

Resolutions to include referenda on marriage equality, abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, the DREAM Act and affordable college tuition were drafted by SDEC members and presented to the SDEC Resolutions Committee for consideration at today's meeting. The committee voted in favor of including affordable college tuition and the DREAM Act on the ballot in addition to legalizing casino gambling, but voted down the resolutions on marriage equality, the death penalty and legalizing marijuana.

Since there were sufficient votes within the committee to present a minority report before the entire SDEC, the three resolutions that were defeated in committee were read aloud at the podium by SDEC member Daniel Graney, President of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus.

Arguments against including such referenda on the ballot were “the Republicans will go after us on this”, “this will negatively impact on our Democratic candidates” and “what if the measure should fail?”

Arguments in favor of these measures were “it is time for Democrats to take a stand on what we believe”, “these measures impact key Democratic constituencies including people of color and LGBT” and “we need to give our Democratic 'base', especially young voters, a reason to vote in the primary”. A number of straight allies on the SDEC also voiced strong support for this resolution.

Openly LGBT members and Stonewall Democrats leaders Eli Olivarez of McAllen, Erin Moore of Dallas and Garry Brown of Austin argued passionately in favor of including the marriage equality referendum on the ballot.

Olivarez noted that “LGBT Democrats have been in the trenches for us all on Democratic issues. Where are you now that we ask for your support?” Moore chided Texas Democratic leaders for not supporting President Obama who has called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. Brown urged SDEC members to not let fear govern their decision on this issue.

More SDEC members spoke in favor of including marriage equality than those who spoke against it. Yet, it was not enough to persuade those members, particularly those from East Texas, to vote in favor of it even though more SDEC members voted in favor of marriage equality than the death penalty and marijuana legalization measures. Only statutory members of the SDEC were allowed to vote on the minority report.

Although Graney expressed disappointment in the outcome of the vote, he praised SDEC Resolutions Committee Chairman Dennis Teal and State Party Chair Boyd Richie for allowing a minority report to be presented and fully debated before a final vote was taken.

“Unfortunately, many SDEC members are afraid to let Democratic voters have their say on issues they regard as too controversial,” said Graney, “yet, polling data shows that legal recognition of same-sex relationships is now supported by 63% of all Texans, so I don't understand the fear about allowing voters to weigh in on this.”

There was one positive outcome of the Nov. 19 SDEC meeting. Graney had previously recommended to the SDEC Rules Committee that the non-discrimination clause in Article 1.B.1 of the State Party Rules include "gender identity" in addition to "sexual orientation" (which was already included). The Rules Committee agreed and presented a revised rule which includes the words "gender identity." The rule change was unanimously adopted at the SDEC meeting.

The Texas Democratic and Republican primary elections will be held on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

Below is the marriage equality resolution that was proposed at the SDEC meeting in Austin on Nov. 19, 2011

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING REFERENDUM ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN TEXAS

WHEREAS, we believe every Texan has the right to participate fully and equally in society and enjoy its benefits and freedoms; and

WHEREAS, in 1996 the Republican-dominated Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the federal Defense of Marriage Act (1 U.S.C. Section 7 and 28 U.S.C. Section 1738C) (hereinafter “DOMA”) that defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman and bars a state from being required to recognize a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state; and

WHEREAS, after a federal court in Massachusetts ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional, the Obama administration announced on February 23, 2011 that the U.S. Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA in federal court; and

WHEREAS, delegates at the 2010 Texas Democratic Convention in Corpus Christi voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the repeal of DOMA; and

WHEREAS, in 2003 the Republican-dominated state legislature passed and Governor Perry signed into law the Texas Defense of Marriage Act (also known as “Texas DOMA” which is codified as Section 6.204 of the Texas Family Code) prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states as valid in the State of Texas; and

WHEREAS, Republican state legislators pushed for and Texas voters approved an
amendment to the Texas Constitution on November 8, 2005 banning legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions, also known as the “Texas Marriage Amendment”; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Constitution Bill of Rights in Article I Section 3 states “all free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services”; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Marriage Amendment appears as Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution Bill of Rights and undermines Article I, Section 3 of the Bill of Rights by denying equal rights to a specific group of Texans; and

WHEREAS, protecting vulnerable members of our state from unwarranted discrimination is fully consistent with the goals, aspirations and values of the Texas Democratic Party and Texans in general; and

WHEREAS, Article IV Section 1 of the United States Constitution specifies the duty of states to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of other states; and
WHEREAS, New York recently became the sixth and largest state following Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), struck down sodomy laws in this country, holding that intimate sexual conduct is protected by the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, thereby paving the way for extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples as stated in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in that case; and

WHEREAS, the recently released Gallup poll (May 2011) finds that the legalization of same-sex marriage is supported by a majority of Americans (53%), a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released in April, 2011 found 51 percent of Americans in support of same-sex marriage and 47 percent opposed to it, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released in March 2011 found 52 percent of Americans supporting same-sex marriage, and in 2010 a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed that 63% of Texans now support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, either marriage or civil unions, thereby demonstrating a major shift in public opinion on this subject among Americans, and Texans in particular, since the Texas Marriage Amendment was adopted in 2005;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the State Democratic Executive Committee approve the following language for a referendum to be placed on the 2012 Democratic Primary Ballot:

“Same-sex couples should be granted equal access to civil marriage and all its benefits and all state and federal laws denying such access should be repealed.”

___For ___Against.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel C. Graney (San Antonio, TX)
President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus
SDEC Committeeman, Stonewall Democrats

Erin Moore (Dallas, TX)
Vice President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus
Co-Chair, National Stonewall Democrats Leadership Council
SDEC Committeewoman, Stonewall Democrats

JC Dufresne (Cibolo, TX)
SDEC Committeeman, Senate District 25

Jackie Solis-Chapa (Austin, TX)
SDEC Committeewoman, Senate District 25

Elias Olivarez, Jr. (McAllen, TX)
SDEC Committeeman, Senate District 20
President, Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley

Teresa Klein (Corpus Christi, TX)
SDEC Committeewoman, Senate District 20

Don Bankston (Richmond, TX)
SDEC Committeeman, Senate District 18

Elaine Bradshaw (Wichita Falls, TX)
SDEC Committeewoman, Senate District 30
County Chair, Wichita County Democratic Party

Charles Urbina Jones (San Antonio, TX)
SDEC Committeeman, Texas Democratic Veterans

Shaun McDade Nelson (Houston, TX)
Treasurer, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus

Carol Cappa (Fort Worth, TX)
Secretary, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus

Robert Shipman (Houston, TX)
President, Houston Stonewall Young Democrats
Member, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus Executive Board

Jared E. Pearce (Dallas, TX)
President, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats
Member, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus Executive Board

David Lumber (McAllen, TX)
Vice President, Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley
Member, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus Executive Board

Olga M. Hernandez (San Antonio, TX)
Co-Chair, National Stonewall Democrats PAC Board of Directors
Member, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus Executive Board

Rich G. Bailey (Austin, TX)
President, Stonewall Democrats of Austin
Member, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus Executive Board
Member, National Stonewall Democrats PAC Board of Directors