Over the last couple of years, marriage equality has spread across the United States like wildfire. At present, it is the law of the land in 33 states and the District of Columbia. A clear majority of United States citizens now live in states where same-sex couples can legally marry.
But not Texas. Not yet.
With a sweeping record of victories under their belt, one national equality organization has now set its sights on Texas to try and advance the cause. Here’s more about the Texas for Marriage campaign from Lone Star Q…
The national group Freedom to Marry plans to spend $200,000 on the campaign launched Tuesday, in advance of oral arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January in a federal lawsuit challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage bans.
The campaign will be led by Ward Curtin, three-time deputy campaign manager to Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Mark McKinnon, a former advisor to President George W. Bush.
“Nearly every state and federal court from last year on, more than 50 – with judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents and governors – has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and moving the country forward,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said. “Texas families should not be left behind. Government has no business interfering in important freedoms like who Texans marry, and no business putting obstacles in the path of families and employers trying to do the right thing. Our new campaign will show that Texans are ready for the freedom to marry, and so is America.”
In addition to a website unveiled Tuesday, TxForMarriage.org, the campaign will feature statewide TV ads, townhall meetings and a Republican-led effort by young conservatives.
“Gay marriage was barely a blip on the radar this past election cycle in Texas, as it was in the rest of the country,” McKinnon said. “That’s because discrimination doesn’t sell like it used to — and because Texans from all walks of life, from big cities to small towns, believe strongly in freedom and family. Supporting gay couples marrying is squarely in line with these Texas values.”
The group’s coordinated approach combines the personal stories of LGBT Texans with a strong case for why marriage equality makes sense for state business leaders. All valid reasons that will hopefully strengthen the state’s growing coalition in support of equal marriage rights.
This is a strong start, but as Texas for Marriage moves forward, let’s hope that they do not leave out other important voices in this argument… the religious community itself. Perhaps it is likely that the group wants to maintain a direct posture that steers clear of religion in all of its forms. A large part of existing arguments for marriage equality stem from the view that it is strictly a secular institution from the government’s standpoint, and therefore leaves religious entities to make their own decisions about how to view same-sex marriage.
But it’s still important to recognize that many religious entities do support marriage equality, and as such, those voices continue to be noticeably absent from the conversation in Texas. Dynamic congregations across the state are now supporting equality, some at similar rates to society at large. Even if the push for marriage is mostly about government recognition, the religious community can still be of great use to change hearts, minds and overall public opinion.
At any rate, let’s hope the new push merits some results.