Senator Rodney Ellis Statement on HJR 6: I Oppose
(Austin)// -- Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement regarding his decision to "tag" HJR 6, a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages in Texas:
"This morning, I placed a tag on HJR 6 to ensure there will be adequate time to discuss this important constitutional amendment. House Joint Resolution 6 was added to today's State Affairs Committee agenda on Saturday. I am concerned that the late hour of that posting would prevent those Texans passionate about this issue from being able to get to the Capitol to testify on both sides of the matter. This decision will ensure that Texans will be able to get to Austin to participate in the debate and that the Texas Senate hears all viewpoints on this issue.
"The House Committee on State Affairs debated HJR 6 for nearly 13 hours. Clearly this is an issue which people from all across our state are wrestling with. Regardless on which side of the debate you stand, this is a very important and very volatile issue that deserves a full debate. I believe it just makes sense to ensure that everyone is given ample time to travel to Austin and have their voice heard.
"Let me be perfectly clear: I oppose HJR 6. It is unnecessary and doesn't even do the one thing that its supporters claim it will do -- strengthen marriage. What two other people do with their lives has no bearing whatsoever on my marriage, just as my marriage has no bearing whatsoever on theirs. Last session, we passed the Defense of Marriage Act, a law which banned same sex marriage in Texas. What has changed so dramatically in two years? Yet, here we are saying this issue is such an immediate threat that we must amend the constitution. I wish the people fighting so hard for this issue would put half as much effort into correcting some of the problems plaguing our state instead of supporting divisive wedge issues that truly serve no purpose other than stoke the fires of discrimination.
"For those that are upset that this standard, often-used parliamentary maneuver means this amendment will not pass, I say: so be it. They may, however, want to ask the question as to why, if HJR 6 is such a top priority, it sat for 20 days, stone-like in the Senate State Affairs Committee without a sponsor or even a request for a hearing. I was born at night, but not last night; legislation that is a top priority does not go without a sponsor for 20 days. House Joint Resolution 6 passed the Texas House on April 26th; it was referred to the Senate State Affairs committee the next day; on Saturday, May 14th the resolution finally found a sponsor. If it could wait 20 days for a hearing, it can wait two days more.
"Issues like this stir the deepest passions in people and, unfortunately, there are some on the extreme fringes like the Aryan Brotherhood who feel emboldened and would rather bully than engage in the process. While everyone who favors HJR 6 is not a bigot, there clearly are those supporters who are and they are vocal. To them, I say this: I will not be bullied, threatened or intimidated, so stop trying."