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Texans have mixed emotions about marriage ruling

Posted Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013  Print Reprints
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Berry Royal hopes there will come a day — sometime in his lifetime — when same-sex couples can marry in Texas.

That day has not come yet. And some Republicans fervently say they’ll keep fighting to keep it from happening in Texas.

But he said it’s now one step closer, with Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married.

“When I grew up, you could not come out at all,” said Royal, 44, who lives in Dallas and grew up in Fort Worth. “Now look at where we are 25 years later, being able to be out and outspoken. We’ve come a long way.

“But there’s still a long way to go,” the Paschal High School and Texas Wesleyan University graduate said. “We are still, unfortunately, second-class citizens. The ruling is great, but we still have 37 states where it’s not legal to get married.”

It’s not legal in Texas, since voters in 2005 amended the state constitution to stipulate that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, a move Republican Gov. Rick Perry maintained was needed to protect traditional marriages.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who sponsored the Texas Marriage Amendment when he served as a state senator, said the Supreme Court ruling matches “the definition of absurdity” and doesn’t match the will of residents in those 37 states.

“I am thankful that Texas still has the right to define marriage as between one man and one woman,” Staples said. “I remain committed to fighting on the front lines for the traditional family values Texans hold dear.”

Religious differences

The 5-4 court ruling drew praise from President Barack Obama.

“We are filled with joy and elation,” said the Rev. Dawson Taylor, executive minister of Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, who participated in a rally celebrating the ruling Wednesday night. “We believe the realm of God has come closer to the Earth because of this.

“The government, through the Supreme Court, recognizes that people have the right to marry who they love,” said Taylor, whose church is the largest predominantly LGBT church in the world.

And while nothing in the ruling directly affects Texas, Taylor said he hopes the ruling spurs change here.

“We know it won’t happen overnight, but I believe the winds have shifted,” he said. “They are at our back and we are moving forward.”

Not all churches feel the same.

“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father,” according to a statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters.”

Some Texas Baptists — including Robert Jeffress, who heads First Baptist Church in Dallas — also were not happy with the ruling.

In a statement, the pastor said “the high court bases its decisions on the shifting sands of public opinion rather than enduring legal and moral principles.”

Bruce Carter and David Jenkins met more than a decade ago, when they were both singers with the Turtle Creek Chorale.

A friendship blossomed between the two, quickly turning into more. Within half a year, they were living together and in a few years, they had adopted a son.

In 2008, they traveled to California to get married during a brief period that year when same-sex marriages were legal.

“We wanted to at least show we tried to formally recognize our relationship as more than two guys playing parenthood,” said Jenkins, a professor and chairman of the Department of Social Work at TCU. “We wanted to honor our relationship.”

So they came home with a document that proves they are married in a state that doesn’t recognize the marriage.

But Wednesday’s court decision brought hope.

“This isn’t some random court ruling,” Jenkins said. “This impacts my family.”

“With Texas, at the end of the day, I don’t care if they allow or perform marriages,” said Carter, manager of decision support for American Airlines’ cargo division. “But at some point, they are going to have to recognize them.”

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley