If You Got Married in Texas in the Last Few Years, Are You Really Married?

wedding marriage.jpgThat’s the news we’re hearing out of Austin today. When Texas added a constitutional amendment in 2005 banning gay marriage, it may have actually banned all marriage, says attorney general candidate (and former Vinson & Elkins partner) Barbara Ann Radnofsky.
Fort Worth Star Telegram broke the story. Slate sums it up:

A Houston lawyer who is the Democratic candidate for attorney general claims that a 2005 Constitutional amendment that was supposed to ban gay marriages actually took the whole thing a bit further than anyone expected. The amendment states that “marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” So far, so good.
But then comes Subsection B: “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” That was supposed to ban any form of civil unions or domestic partnership but may have put the legal status of all Texas marriages in doubt.

Texas: 3500 sq ft, a Lexus and babies out of wedlock?

The current attorney general and conservative groups say Texas still has the power to grant a marriage between a man and a woman. They say the clause serves simply to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.
But AG candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky — who spent 27 years at Vinson & Elkins — disagrees. She says the clause “eliminates marriage in Texas.” From the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

She calls it a “massive mistake” and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.
“You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says,” said Radnofsky.

(Radnofsky’s degree is from the University of Texas.)
On the upside, Texans who made bad marital matches in the last few years may be saved the trouble of messy divorces.
Texas’ gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages [Fort Worth Star Telegram]
Are All Marriages Banned in Texas? [Slate]

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