Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general, says that a clause in the 2005 Texas constitutional amendment intended to ban gay marriages inadvertently endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state. Obviously this is one barrister’s opinion, but worth consideration to be sure. McClatchy reports,
The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that “marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:
“This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively “eliminates marriage in Texas,” including common-law marriages.
She calls it a “massive mistake” and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Randofsky’s point, however. Even if the effect of the language eliminates all marriage in Texas, it would have to be tested in court and would likely have no traction. This is more of an intellectual curiosity if anything.