From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 20, 2005
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Rodney Ellis Statement on Gay Marriage Amendment

(Austin)// -- Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement regarding the approval of HJR 6 by the Senate State Affairs Committee:

"I am saddened by today's vote of the Senate State Affairs Committee. I oppose HJR 6 because I believe it is patently unnecessary and doesn't even do the one thing that its supporters claim it will do -- strengthen marriage. As I have said many times: 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.

"It was only two years ago that we passed the Defense of Marriage Act, a law which banned same sex marriage in Texas. Nothing has changed in two years, yet, here we are saying this issue is such an immediate threat that we must amend the constitution.

"There are many more serious challenges facing the state of Texas. We rank near the bottom in the percentage of children living in poverty, or the percentage not covered by health insurance, or percentage of our citizens with a high school diploma. We still haven't even solved our school funding issue or fundamentally reformed a tax system that was designed when John F. Kennedy was President and Texas had roughly a third of the people we have today. I wish the people fighting so hard for this issue would put half as much effort into correcting some of the more pressing problems plaguing our state instead of supporting divisive wedge issues that truly serve no purpose other than stoke the fires of discrimination.

"The argument that 'the people overwhelmingly want this' rings hollow. There are literally hundreds of issues that have overwhelming support of Texans that do not even get a hearing in the legislature or become law, much less get enshrined in our constitution. Eighty percent of Texans support an assault weapons ban; seventy percent support Robin Hood; an overwhelming majority support banning the execution of the mentally retarded; nearly two-thirds of Texans support casino gaming. And, in 1999, poll after poll showed that Texans overwhelmingly wanted the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act to become law, yet it did not. In fact, many of the same people crying 'public support' today worked their fingers to the bone against the Byrd Act.

"Texas does not need to enshrine discrimination in the constitution."