Amendment Goof May Have Banned Straight Marriage in Texas

While attempting to block same-sex marriages in Texas, legislators may have inadvertently banned all marriage state-wide. Oops.

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston lawyer Barbara Ann Radnofsky said the following clause in The Texas Constitution designed to block same-sex marriage actually blocks all marriages.

Art. 1 Sec. 32.  MARRIAGE. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. (b)  This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

The amendment, added Nov. 8, 2005, is not a statement mired in legalese.  In fact, it's pretty clear English.  One thing that is identical to marriage is marriage ... and this clause bans that.  The wording has now left many people wondering how such a blunder might have occurred, Radnofsky included.

"You do not have to have a fancy law degree to read this and understand what it plainly says," Radnofsky told the Star-Telegram. "I believe the clear language of B bans all marriages, and this is indeed a huge mistake."

Radnofsky, who is a Democratic candidate for attorney general, blames current Texas attorney general Greg Abbott for the mistake.  Abbot's spokesperson, Jerry Strickland, said Abbott stands behind the amendment.

Radnofsky told the Star-Telegram the error isn't likely to result in the dissolution of marriages in Texas, but that the wording in the amendment could open the door to several legal claims from those who believe the marriages may not be valid, including some who would want to contest the payment of an inheritance, spousal support, or any other marriage-related issue.

Another amendment to The Texas Constitution would likely have to be passed to change the wording in the amendment.

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