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Changing Texas Law

Guest Bigmac

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Guest Bigmac

I am 59 years old and my partner is 63. We are 1st cousins. Our family is aware and support us. We want to be married one way or the other. Where do I start at changing the law in Texas. Contact our representative? Are there resources available to help us?

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  • Administrator

sadly, the law did get changed... only a few years ago. 2005, i think. it WAS legal up until that point. you're going to be fighting an uphill battle, i'm afraid. 

but yes, you'd start by contacting your state rep. you might even attempt to enlist the aid of the ACLU. in the past, the ACLU was very unhelpful, but times are a-changin'.

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Hisdudeness: Ignoring state laws can create legal problems and legal problems are EXPENSIVE, both in finances AND possible jail time.

Also, a legal marriage can prevent other problems, including health care for a spouse and and estate management.

Bigmac:  Good luck to you. Please let us know how you are doing.  



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Bigmac, I'm afraid LadyC is right.  A legislator (Harvey Hilderbran) slipped a change into a "protect the children" bill.  His amendment was designed to specifically target the Fundamentalist Mormons (i.e., Warren Jeffs) who had apparently taken up residence in his back yard at the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch that made news a few years after that.  He knew that the folks at YFZ Ranch were engaged in cousin marriage as well as polygamous "spiritual" marriage so he tried to craft as many possible crimes as he could to "nail" them.  He made it illegal to marry a first cousin, tried to equate "spiritual" marriage to legal marriage where polygamy laws were concerned (dubious effort at best), but also made it a felony for cousins, married or not, to have sexual intercourse.  While it would not apply to previous events, any actions taken after the law went into effect could potentially be punishable.  Basically, he was trying to stack the deck so that if the 45-year-old men who married and bedded their 12-year-old cousins couldn't go to jail on that, at the very least, they could fry for it being a cousin.  In his perfect world, it would just be one more charge for a jury to put them away for that much longer.

To be clear, Representative Harvey Hilderbran, who left office last January (and apparently left politics after getting trounced in a primary election for Comptroller of Public Accounts), admitted that this was his intent.  He also admitted that he didn't care that he effectively turned literally THOUSANDS of otherwise legally married couples across the state into overnight felons because he found the idea personally revolting anyway.

So, the way ahead, which will be very tough, will be to find a legislator willing to do what he did - tack an amendment on to a bill repealing those two particular provisions, prohibiting cousin marriage and criminalizing sex between cousins.  Were I a Texan, I would look first toward my own state Representative and Senator and try to get a sit-down with them to explain it.  Depending on how their legislature is set up and who those lawmakers are, it may be harder.  IF they are willing to support you, they may have to get buy-in from legislators on the appropriate committees to even get it proposed.  After that, the committee chairman will have to agree to let it come to a vote in the committee.  Following that, assuming it passes the vote, it goes (either as a stand-alone bill - doubtful - or as an amendment to a bill) to the main floor of its respective chamber (House or Senate), where it is again voted up or down.  IF it succeeds there, the other chamber also has to consider it.  If it survives conference committee or goes as is, it may get a chance to get voted in there.  Once voted there, it goes to the governor's desk for signature.

Bottom line, at this point in time, ANY change to ANY marriage law will be met with fierce resistance.  Slipping it by as an amendment *may* be possible but it's highly unlikely, especially if it gets any press.  Hildebran did it without any press - or even without any of his colleagues really even reading it - because no one cared back then.  Same sex marriage was such an impossibility in Texas at that time and even so, making the law more restrictive on cousin marriage seemed "progressive" because it got Texas away from the more "backward" states... like Colorado, California, New York, Florida, and Maryland.  smh

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