DPS Discrimination: Texan Refused License Over Marriage Certificate

In the business of everyday life, it’s sometimes easy for LGBT Texans to forget about the huge inequalities that they face due to state government.  If you haven’t been fired because of your sexuality, you may not think it’s a problem for others, or just not feel the need to act strongly on the issue.

But this week, John Wright of the Texas Observer notes the story of one family’s struggle which hits painfully close to home.  A Texas woman and legal, licensed driver in her former home state of California was denied the ability to obtain a Texas license, simply because her official state-issued marriage certificate revealed that she is LGBT…

After Connie Wilson married her partner of nine years in California last year, she took her wife’s last name, Wilson, which now appears on both her California driver’s license and her Social Security card, in addition to all of the couple’s financial and medical records.

This summer, the couple relocated to the Houston area with their three children for work. With her California driver’s license nearing expiration, Wilson took her documents to a DPS office in Katy last week to obtain a Texas driver’s license. When a DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name didn’t match her birth certificate, she produced the couple’s California marriage license identifying her spouse as Aimee Wilson.

“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?’” Connie Wilson recalled. “I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”

Wilson eventually responded that although California doesn’t differentiate, she happened to be married to a woman.

“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”

Texas has both a state statute and a constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. However, Wilson contends she isn’t asking DPS to recognize her marriage, but rather trying to obtain an accurate driver’s license reflecting her legal name according to the state of California and the U.S. government.

“I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires,” Wilson said. “I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”

Just so we are clear, California is just as much a part of the United States of America as any other state.  Yet, according to Texas law, our DPS workers apparently have the right to discriminate between official documents from other states just based on the names listed.  How is it possible that DPS workers accept one California marriage license as documentation, but then turn around and refuse another simply because the persons listed may be of the same sex??  This is absolute discrimination.  You can be certain that Mrs. Wilson, with the help of Equality Texas and other groups, will pursue this issue to the fullest extent of the law, as they should.

Beyond discrimination, this action is a violation of the United States Constitution, under the “Privileges and Immunities Clause”.  Here’s  Article IV, Section II from the Articles of Confederation, via the Cornell University Law School Page

Section 2.

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A license is a legal privilege as given by a state.  So for Texas to refuse recognition of a privilege granted in California is an act directly against the Constitution.  This is an offense made all the worse due to direct discrimination committed by Texas DPS.

TLCQ 2014: Luis Lopez

In the Sixth installment of the 2014 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Luis Lopez candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, District 132.  He is a Democrat.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.


TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

LL:  Luis Lopez


TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

LL:  No


TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

LL:  My seven siblings and I grew up in poverty, which forced me to take on adult responsibilities at an extremely young age; this made me aware of the inherent economic inequalities in Texas, and of the lack of investment in critical aspects of everyday Texans’ lives. Government should provide all communities with a well-funded, high quality, public school system, a well maintained infrastructure, economic security, and access to clean water.


TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for 2015 legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

LL:  I will accomplish the following goals through working with legislators from both parties.

  • As State Representative for District 132, I will make Texas Education a priority by fighting to appropriately fund our public school system and distribute resources in a fair and equitable manner. In addition, I will work towards making college more affordable.


  • My focus will also be geared towards ensuring that families and the local businesses in House District 132 are provided with the best opportunities for growth. I will introduce legislation that will provide tax relief for small businesses owners. Moreover, I will support and will prioritize a gradual phase-in increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as it will increase worker productivity, increase business profits, and help bring families closer to achieving the American Dream.
  • I will work to expand health coverage for the large number of uninsured Texans via the Medicaid Expansion.


TL:  A 2013 survey found that 54 percent of Texas voters support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Expansion is also supported by the Texas Hospital Association. Without Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution, Texas Hospitals are having to provide over $5 billion dollars annually in uncompensated care to patients who lack insurance.  This leaves Texas taxpayers paying not only for the uncompensated care of our residents, but also paying for expanded healthcare benefits in other states. If elected, would you support Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution for the state of Texas, so we can bring our tax dollars back where they belong?  If not, please explain why.  If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.

LL:  Yes, as the State Representative for House District 132, I will support Medicaid Expansion.


TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is projected to have a population boom of historic proportions. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

LL:  Republicans avoid this reality with all of their budget cutting talks. Starving our state budget for political purposes when our population continues to grow is irresponsible. There is a lot of waste in the budget that can be eliminated if we responsibly scrutinize the budget, and utilize savings on expanding our investment in roads and infrastructure. Obviously, federal investment in our roads and infrastructure will only bolster our investment. We cannot promote a successful business climate when our crumbling infrastructure goes ignored. It’s just bad governing.


TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

LL:  I have real life experience and knowledge regarding Texas’ current challenges, such as education, employment, and small business development—the kind of challenges Texas families worry about every day. I will stand up and fight for our public schools and for our institutions of higher education, so they will provide our Texas businesses with a robust and well-trained workforce. I will promote transparency and accountability on the legislative and budget process so that my constituents can once again trust in and count on state government. And I will protect the interests of the foundation of our economy: small businesses. The families of HD-132 need a representative who will fight for them.

My opponent offers the status quo provided by Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and others who have run this state based on self-serving values that have divided our great state. Such valuies ignore our public schools, overtax our small businesses, and promoted cronyism in our state government.  My opponent prides himself as being Gov. Perry’s “point man” on the Voter ID bill, a bill that we know will only hurt our democratic process. In addition, this is my opponent’s third time running for a State Representative seat in a District where he does not reside.

It’s time to put an end to this and get to the work of governing based on our families’ needs. Residents of House District 132 need a State Representative that understands their daily struggles and will work tirelessly, always keeping in mind the best interests of our communities’, families and of our small business owners. I am that representative.


TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

LL:  Growing up with 7 siblings, I strongly value and take advantage of all opportunities to spend time with my siblings, parents, wife, and beautiful one year old daughter. I have been involved in our communities since the age of 14. Community services continues to be my passion and one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. I also enjoy playing and watching sports.


Thanks to Mr. Lopez for his participation.