Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Introduction to Texas Law

In 2005, Texas voters forbade civil unions and domestic partnerships by adding one simple line to their constitution:

This state ... may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
On its face, this seems unconstitutional. Shouldn't gays be allowed to create some kind of protected status that levels the playing field? An appellate court disagreed, saying we don't deserve to be protected because we can't have kids.

They didn't seem to notice that five states will let you marry your cousin once Mrs. Billy Bob's ovaries have flown the coop.

Despite this amendment, the Austin school district recently granted their employees domestic partnerships, drawing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott out of the woodwork. Mr. Abbott is advising politicians to strike down domestic partnership programs. He helped write the amendment, so perhaps we're overestimating his ability to recognize idiot law.

See, domestic partnerships weren't criminalized because there's something wrong with them: no, Texas just decided that if something is good, you shouldn't allow options. You got Two Broke Girls? Then fuck Seinfeld. You got a taco? Then don't even think about falafel. A hetero sheriff is all we need, even if he doesn't protect homos. You want a gay sheriff? This town ain't big enough for both of us, even if you own fewer shoes.

We run into serious problems, though, because this amendment hinges on the definition of "marriage." See, marriage is really quite simple. It's "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." Domestic partnerships are basically one of these without that "one man and one woman" part.

But, uh, isn't every union of people similar if you drop the "one man and one woman" part?

A "union" is "a number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose," which makes us suspect that homosexuals aren't all that Texas criminalized. Credit unions are now illegal, since they're people united to get higher interest rates on their savings accounts. Student unions are illegal, since God joined them together so they can get Motörhead to play nearby. And labor unions are illegal, since they bind people together for all eternity to save the good jobs for their friends.

But marriage is more than just people tied together, you argue: it's a complex legal state. While that's true, that state differs depending on where you live, meaning this marriage is impossible to define. If you're in South Carolina, marriage can be between teenaged relatives. In California, everything your spouse buys is half yours. This bizarre legal decree means men can end up owning handbags and dresses, while women can get half of the Dodgers.

Complicating matters is the fact that the U. S. recognizes marriages that have taken place in, say, Iran, where taking a wife is roughly equivalent to adopting a dog. The biggest difference, in fact, is that no one expects a dog to cook or clean the house. The U. S. will still agree it's a marriage even if you solemnly swear to take your wife as your property, and reserve the right to dump her by saying "I divorce my wife" three times in front of witnesses. Although federal law says "marriage is a sacred compact in which a man assumes a moral obligation to support his wife and child," they're cool with that Iranian one that says when a dude gets tired of his main squeeze, she needs to hit the road.

Under this giant umbrella, Mr. Abbott isn't wrong in declaring domestic partnerships similar to marriage, even though the ones he's fighting here convey exactly one right. The Austin school district allows their employees to sign up their domestic partners -- hetero or homo -- for the sole purpose of getting cheap health insurance.

This is strictly forbidden, argues Mr. Abbott. Texans cannot join together to get cheap health insurance.

And this is where we reach the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Abbott is a world-class bigot. See, you're not a bigot if you think marriage will be abused by moms who marry their sons to dodge inheritance taxes. If you think gay marriage will prompt a flood of dads and sons to the altar, you sure as fuckin' hell are.

You're not a bigot if you say all the basketball players who have sex out of wedlock are an open rebellion to God. When you say a gay player is, you sure as fuckin' hell are.

So, it's possible Texas has outlawed domestic partnerships. It's also possible they've outlawed Geico. Before we discuss the former, though, Mr. Abbott needs to put a certain lizard in the world's tiniest jail.

No comments: