Texas lawmakers are trying to repeal a state law that allows transgender people to legally marry spouses of the opposite sex. Not only would this prevent trans people from marrying their partners — some worry it might invalidate existing marriages.
According to the AP, a provision on a larger bill just two years ago allowed trans people to get married using proof of their sex reassignment surgery. But now, Republican legislators say the provision was a mistake. A spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry says he never intended to sign a bill allowing trans people to marry: "The governor has always believed and advocated that marriage is between a man and a woman." And state Sen. Tommy Williams says he just wants to clear up confusion for county clerks, who were never supposed to be able to marry trans people in the first place: "The Texas Constitution clearly defines marriage between one man and one woman."
In addition to preventing trans people from entering into new marriages, this proposed change could render existing marriages null and void. A particularly tragic example is the marriage of Nikki Araguz (pictured), whose firefighter husband was killed on the job in 2010. Now the husband's family is trying to take control of his estate away from Araguz, arguing that their marriage was illegal because she was born a man. Of course, Araguz now identifies as a woman, revealing a problem with Williams's definition of marriage — in order to exclude couples like Araguz and her late husband, Texas law would have to specify that marriage is between one cisman and one ciswoman. And regulating marriage based on birth sex might bring up a whole host of other problems, like barring some intersex people from marrying — Williams has even acknowledged this. However, he appears to dismiss the real implications of the legislation by saying, "It is an emotional issue. I can appreciate that."
It's actually a human rights issue. And while Texas lawmakers can continue to split hairs about who's a man and who's a woman, the way to really resolve this "confusion" once and for all is to allow any pair of consenting adults to get married, regardless of sex or gender. But that solution doesn't seem like it's coming to Texas anytime soon.
Texas May Strip Away Transgender Marriage Rights [AP, via ABC]