Texas AG rules domestic partnership benefits violate state constitution

Greg Abbott argued that the benefits violate the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages

Topics: Texas, Gay Marriage, Greg Abbott, Same-sex marriage, Republicans,

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued an opinion arguing that providing domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples in the state is a violation of the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The non-binding opinion was in response to a request by state Sen. Dan Patrick, a Republican, who objected to the Pflugerville school district’s decision to offer domestic partnership benefits.

From the Dallas Voice:

Pflugerville’s decision also prompted a Republican state lawmaker to introduce a bill that would cut funding for school districts that offer DP benefits. The bill — HB 1568 by Drew Springer of Muenster — is awaiting a vote in the House.

While Pflugerville was the first school district to offer DP benefits, several other local government entities do so, including the cities of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio; as well as Dallas County and Parkland hospital. Most offer DP benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.

In his opinion, Abbott writes that domestic partnerships “have various characteristics in common with the criteria for marriage,” enough that “a court is likely to conclude that the domestic partnership legal status about which [Patrick inquires] is ‘similar to marriage’ and therefore barred by article I, section 32 of the Texas Constitution.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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