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Pro: Marriage is between man, woman

By Gheni_Platenburg
June 26, 2011 at 1:26 a.m.

"Anything with the water and I'm happy," Brendan Gonzalez, of Port Lavaca, said of his love of the beach, fishing and kayaking. Gonzalez is a transgendered male and started taking hormones for his transition a little more than a year ago. Even though he still has a lot more changes to undergo, he said that he is much happier with his identity since deciding to become a man.

Should legislation barring transgender marriage be passed?Bills to stop transgendered people from marrying died in the Legislature this session.

Touted as cleanup bills, SB 723 and HB 3098 sought to remove wording from a 2009 bill filed by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, of Brenham, that listed a court order recognizing a sex change as being among several identity documents that applicants could present to county and district clerks to get married.

House records show Kolkhorst added the sex-change document provision to the 2009 bill as part of a lengthy amendment in the last month of the session.

The amended legislation passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry a month later. The latest bills would require the state to recognize a 1999 state appeals court decision that said in cases of marriage, gender is assigned at birth and remains with a person throughout their life even if they have a sex change.

Advocates for the transgendered say the proposed bills would not only prevent future transgender marriages, but also open the possibility that any current transgender marriage could be nullified.

The Republican authors of legislation prohibiting transgender marriage do not know why anyone would oppose it.

From their points of view, the bills just cleaned up the language of a 2009 bill and were not about furthering any discriminatory agenda.

"It was just a cleanup bill," said Chelsie Sanders, administrative assistant and legislative aide for Sen. Tommy Williams, of Houston. "It was not supposed to be anything dramatic."

Both SB 723 and HB 3098, filed by Williams and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, of Brenham, sought to disallow a court order recognizing a sex change as a valid identity document to apply for a marriage license.

The 2009 bill created a discrepancy at district clerk offices when it came to approving marriage licenses, thus creating the need for a cleanup bill to make the language clearer, said Sanders.

She refuted claims that the bill was discriminatory toward transgendered people.

"That is not the purpose of the bill," said Sanders, who said the bill simply aligned the Texas Family Code with the Texas Constitution and Texas higher court decision. "It makes it more clear to the clerk if they should or should not issue a license."

Kolkhorst did not return messages left for comment on the bills.

Jonathan Saenz, an attorney and director of legislative affairs for the Liberty Institute, said the legislation ensures "the law and courts are consistent on the issue of marriage in the state of Texas and to create a consistent policy on confirming gender."

"This effort to change our state policy is creating confusion and causing people to file lawsuits," he said. "Thankfully, the courts have not been confused by this issue. When it comes to marriage, they look at your birth certificate to determine your sex."

He continued, "Our hope is that folks are not trying to use this misguided 2009 law to undermine this."

Raymond Smith, author of the column Christian Philosophy Lite in the Advocate, said he supports any bill that seeks to end transgender marriage rights.

"They want legitimacy and the tax benefits," Smith said about the transgendered people's fight for marriage rights. "They want to take away the stigma, but there ought to be a stigma. It is an aberration of God's plan. There is nothing good said about it in the Bible."

He continued, "The TV says don't be judgmental. If someone is doing something, leave them alone and in some cases, feel sorry for them. But why do we have to feel sorry for these gays and drug addicts? What that does is open the door for other things."

Although he was not familiar with the specific bills in question, Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, an anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reportedly collaborated with over the years, said his organization would be in support of most bills that ended the legality of transgender marriages.

"The truth is, an individual who claims to be transgendered is either a male or female in every single cell of his or her body and that individual's DNA has either been male or female from the moment of conception," said Fischer. "We think public policy should be geared toward helping individuals reconcile their psychological identity to their biological identity and not the other way around."

Like most organizations that are for traditional marriages, Fischer said his group believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman, neither one of whom is transgendered.

"Any time you tamper with that, you are going to weaken the institution of marriage and family," said Fisher. "That's bad for any family or society."

Whether the legislation in question eventually passes, advocates of traditional marriages will continue to fight against the bigger issue of the legality of transgender marriage.

"You can't stop it. They are going to do it whether it is God's will or not," said Smith. "But we have to protect society. It may disappoint some people. All these questionable trends, like transgender and gay marriage, are producing problems in society that are unquestionable."

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