Even though progress has been made, same-sex marriage is still a controversial topic for many, that still raises numerous questions. If you do not know the answer to the question is gay marriage legal in Texas, read ahead to find out the answer, as well as other helpful information regarding gay rights in this state.
Is same-sex marriage legal in Texas?
In short, the answer to this question is yes. In fact, since 2015, same-sex marriage is now legal in all US states on the basis of the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. However, it should be noted that state law does not protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination based on their gender and sexual preferences.
The history of gay marriage in Texas
Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in Texas, the road to the right to marry for same-sex couples was a strenuous one. Before the 70s, homosexuality was considered a taboo topic. As a result, same-sex couples were not allowed to raise or adopt children.
In 1973, after legal challenges to the ban on same-sex marriages, House Bill 103 was introduced. This bill stated that, by law, the only marriage licenses that could be issued by the state were for the marriages between a man and a woman.
In 1997, 2003, and 2005, further measures that were aimed at banning same-sex marriages were introduced. In 2014, a Texan judge was the first to state that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
In 2015, the first same-sex marriage between two women was recognized under the law. One year later, after the decision given by the Supreme Court in the case Obergefell v. Hodges., same-sex marriage was declared legal in all the states of the U.S. Statistics show that, after the ruling by the Supreme Court, approximately 2,500 couples married in Texas, in the first three months.
What you need to get married in Texas
If you want to get married in Texas, you have to follow a certain process. To start, you and your partner have to go to a county clerk’s office in the state and submit proof of your identity and age. If one of the persons applying for the marriage license cannot be present, you will be required to present a notarized affidavit as well as proof of age and identity for the person that is not present.
Then, you will be required to fill out an application so that you can receive the marriage license. Finally, you will be required to take the oath that is printed on the application and to sign it in the presence of a county clerk. Neither you, nor your partner need to be Texas residents to get married in the state. Just like in the case of all marriage licenses, you will have to pay a fee.
Even though the state of Texas offers pre-marital courses, you are not required to attend such a course in order to receive a marriage license. However, if you take a premarital education course, the 72 hour period that you have to wait between the moment when the license is issued and the time when you can get married will be waived.
What are the benefits?
As a married couple, you and your partner will be able to enjoy some benefits, including property rights, insurance benefits, military benefits, social security, spousal benefits, tax benefits, and work rights.
Yet, your ability to access these benefits can be affected by where you live and where you work. This is why it is recommended that you do some more research on this matter after taking into account these factors.
Do I have obligations?
After you get married, you and your partner will be liable for each other’s debts. Plus, you will be responsible for one another’s wellbeing, as you will have to support each other. Some restrictions concerning the decision that you make about the properties that you own will be in place as well.
Same-sex common-law marriage
Common-law marriage for same-sex couples is legal in Texas. For such a marriage to be recognized by the law, the couple has to satisfy three requirements: to present a declaration of marriage that has been signed by both parties,to provide proof that the parties agree to be married. Moreover, the couple has to cohabitate together and they need to present themselves to others as a married couple.
Same-sex common-law marriage is only legal is the partners are over 18, not related by blood, and not married to other people. When the common-marriage is legally established, the couple has the same rights as those who are married through a wedding license.
If you and your partner decide to do so, you can have your informal marriage recognized by the state by filing a special declaration.
Given that same-sex couples can now legally marry in Texas, it should come as no surprise that they can also get divorced. The process of divorce for same-sex couples is the same as that for opposite-sex ones.
Discrimination in Texas
While many Texans consider that gay people deserve to be protected by the law, this is not necessarily the case. Given the current legislation, in Texas it is still legal to fire somebody because of his/her sexual orientation.
However, it is worth pointing out that discrimination on the bias of one’s sexual orientation is not legal in all cities in Texas. For instance, in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Plano, and Fort Worth, discriminatory acts based on one’s gender identity or sexual preferences are prohibited, both in state and private employment, housing, as well as public accommodations.
Other cities in Texas also protect their LGBTQ communities from discrimination. Some school districts in Texas also offer LGBTQ students protection from discrimination.
Data collected during polls indicate that 79% of Texans consider that LGBT people experience, to a moderate degree, some form of discrimination. According to another poll from 2011, 73% of Texans stated that employment discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation should be prohibited.
To help protect the LGBTQ community in Texas, numerous organizations have started to take action when it comes to defending the rights of this community. One of these organizations is Equality Texas.
Since the organization was founded in 1990, it has achieved a number of important victories. For instance, it worked to defeat numerous measures that were aimed at preventing gays and lesbians from being able to serve as adopted parents.
It also increased the funding provided for AIDS and HIV programs, and it also lobbied for many other bills that protect the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Another prominent organization that organizes events that aim at educating people to accept the LGBTQ communities in Texas is Atticus Circle. Apart from providing information to those interested in the topic, Atticus Circle also conducts researches and published materials that advocate for equal rights for same-sex partners.
LGBTQ culture in Texas
Although some homophobia still exists, Texas is a state where there are many active gay communities. Austin, for instance, is one of the cities that has a prominent LGBTQ community. The city was acclaimed by some publications such as The Advocate and Travel and Leisure as a gay-friendly city. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are also cities that are considered gay-friendly.
Each year, numerous events are organized in Texas to celebrate gay pride. Dallas pride is one of the biggest and most recognized events of this type. The first-ever Dallas pride parade was organized in 1972. Due to the stigma that the gay community faced, the second Dallas pride parade was organized in 1980, after no less than eight years. In recent years, this event is held annually.
The most attended gay event in Texas is, however, the Houston Gay Pride Parade, an event that is has been held annually, starting from 1979. What makes Houston Gay Pride Parade such a unique event is the fact that a new theme is introduced every year. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the 2020 parade was canceled. However, the actual event was replaced with a virtual one.
Same-sex adoption and assisted reproduction
All married couples in Texas, including same-sex couples, can now adopt children. Previously, this was not possible. To adopt, couples were required to present themselves as two single individuals interested in jointly adopting a child. Now, this is no longer the case, as same-sex couples have equal rights as different-sex couples.
One important benefit of legal adoption for same-sex couples is that both parents have the same rights as well as responsibilities over the child, as a biological parent. The process of adopting a child takes at least two months.
The exact amount of time depends on one’s circumstances. Both parents will have to undergo a background check and a home screening. Assisted reproduction is also available for same-sex couples provided that they are married. Under current regulations, the birth certificate of the child will include the names of both parents.