Group says Proposition 2 language could threaten traditional, common law marriages

AUSTIN (AP) – Opponents of Proposition 2, which would amend the Texas constitution to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman, warned Monday the proposition could nullify traditional marriages.

“This piece of legislation simply is not worth the risks that it poses,” said Trampes Crow, 31, a married graduate student and former Army officer who is part of the anti-Prop 2 group Save Texas Marriage. “Any form of marriage could be endangered by this amendment.”

Some of those joining him at a news conference in Austin held signs with slogans such as “43 years of marriage at risk” and “Don’t mess with my marriage.”

The group points to the language of the proposed amendment that says the state is prohibited from “creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” That, the group says, could be interpreted by a judge to mean traditional or common law marriage is invalid.

Not true, said state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, sponsor of the proposed amendment which goes before voters Nov. 8.

When the measure was debated in the Legislature this year legal experts confirmed the amendment wouldn’t jeopardize traditional marriage or common law marriage, he said.

“They’re trying to play on the words,” Chisum said. “Let me tell you, we had some very good legal scholars help put this language together.”

If the amendment is approved by voters, Texas would become one of more than a dozen states to have voted for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

The dispute arose Monday as early voting began. Both sides are working to stir interest in the proposed same-sex marriage ban, expected to be the biggest ballot draw. Typically, voter turnout is low for constitutional amendment elections in Texas in which there are no statewide candidates running.

Kelly Shackelford, a leader of the pro-Prop 2 group Texans for Marriage, agreed with Chisum that opponents are trying frighten voters. He said he has heard about a telephone campaign seemingly aimed at Christian senior citizens telling them that if the proposition passes it could destroy traditional marriage.

“This is just a blatant attempt to defraud people and scare people,” Shackelford said. “To me, this is like the shadiest kind of stuff.”

Opponents of the proposition say there’s no need for it and that state law already prohibits homosexual marriage.

“Nonsense, that’s what it is. Just a lot of nonsense,” proposition opponent Martha Cotera, a longtime civil rights activist, said of Prop 2. “These people ought to get lives, for God’s sake.”

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