HOUSTON — A state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages will be voted on Nov. 8 in Texas. If passed, Proposition 2 could eliminate gay unions all together. Progressive activists, advocates, and some politicians are outraged at the attempt by the right wing to use this as a wedge issue. The Texas AFL-CIO opposes the legislation.

The No Nonsense in November campaign has mounted a fight-back movement. The message is to “defend, don’t amend the Texas Constitution.” The group started a voter registration drive in the GLBT community. They have been helped by a diverse group of progressive activists.

Annise Parker, Houston’s openly gay city controller, told the Houston Chronicle that the amendment is divisive and discriminatory. She said, “I take it personally because today, even though I cannot marry, I can enter into contracts and can take benefits of domestic partnerships from various companies. Should this pass, that may disappear.”

Republican Gov. Rick Perry is using this wedge issue to line up support to keep control of the Texas Legislature in the 2006 elections, said Glen Maxey, former state representative (D-Austin). “This measure was put on the ballot as a Voter Registration and Voter ID drive for … Perry and his right-wing cronies.” Maxey added.

The lead proponent of Proposition 2 is the Texas Marriage Alliance, whose spokesperson is Rick Perry. The Texas Marriage Alliance is run by John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. The two men were indicted along with Tom DeLay last week for money laundering and conspiracy.

Texas state Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) notes on his web page, “Nowhere else in the [Texas] Constitution is one group of people singled out to be denied rights that are available to others. This amendment goes far beyond simply defining marriage — it also prohibits civil unions and any other agreement that a court decides is ‘similar to marriage’ under a standard that the amendment does not clarify.”

John Ibanez, an activist and organizer of the voter registration drive, told the World that DeLay group’s “real aim” is the vote in ’06 and so they are working the religion angle. Ibanez emphasized that it is imperative to gay and lesbian unions to stop the bigotry of DeLay. “It is important for the gay community to mobilize their forces to defeat this and hopefully cause a domino effect in the other states,” added Ibanez. “There are going to be 12 or 13 other states that will have this on the ballot in 2006.”

The issue isn’t just about marriages and civil unions, but about civil liberties. “I just feel like all Americans should be treated equally according to the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” said Faye Sullivan, a volunteer in the No Nonsense in November voter registration campaign. “We’re supposed to be a secular country and to deny people their right is in polar opposition to what our forefathers meant.”

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