How is the gay marriage controversy impacting the state of Texas and the family law practice area? What issues do attorneys need to be aware of?
The gay marriage controversy is forcing all citizens of the state of Texas to reexamine what “marriage” means. Is marriage simply a religious concept implemented through the government that supports the traditional one man/one woman viewpoint? Certainly that is the current state of the law in Texas. But many citizen voters seem to be expanding their consideration to include broader definitions of relationships. Gay marriage is one of these broader definitions. Many citizen voters seem to be more willing to accept a civil definition of a relationship which the government sanctions. Presently we call this “marriage” but many would prefer to call this a “civil union” to avoid conflict with traditional religious notions of marriage. Reasons for this expansion of viewpoint may be the recognition that gay relationships have received on television and in the media as well as the increasing likelihood that our neighbors, friends, and relatives may be gay and want to be married.
Another trend related to the gay marriage trend is the trend, especially among young people, away from traditional ceremonial marriage. Some have a jaded viewpoint of marriage because of experience with divorce and, therefore, simply don’t want to get married at all leaving themselves free to move in and out of relationships without the complications marriage brings. Others find that common law marriage has become more societally acceptable than in the past.
The country and maybe even our world awaits the imminent rulings from the US Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Court will take its summer break at the end of the month, so most Court scholars expect decisions in the two gay-issue cases to come down in the next 7 days. We are watching and will report.