One year after gay marriage ruling, Texans still fighting for equality

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sunday marks one year since the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.

 

Almost immediately after the landmark ruling came down, celebrations erupted across the country and thousands of same-sex couples rushed to the courthouse to legally tie the knot.

 

In less than two months, the Health Department reported that a total of 25,000 same-sex marriage licenses were filed in the state of Texas, making up roughly 4 percent of all marriages in the state at the time.

 

It was amazing to watch the day that love actually won,” Andrés Araiza, Chairman of Equality Texas said. “But at the same time, individuals in my community were saying, ‘wow, we won marriage equality, we’re done'”.

 

Araiza said June 26, 2015 marked the beginning of an entirely new battle for gay Texans.

 

A gay Texan can go try to have dinner,” Araiza said, “and that business owner could deny them services because they are gay.”

 

Right now Texas is one of 28 states that does not include gays and lesbians in their statewide nondiscrimination law. Araiza said some state leaders, for example Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, are still fighting LGBT acceptance.

 

Here in Texas we have a Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who launches vicious and hateful attacks against my community,” Araiza said. “He has attacked my transgender friends with this ridiculous debate about ‘potty policies.’ He’s in fact told Texans that it is okay to treat me differently because of how I am born.”

 

There’s no special weird or different or unique thing about gay marriage,” Austin resident Heath Riddles said, “it’s just marriage.”

 

Riddles and his partner Marcus Sanchez are still celebrating the momentous Supreme Court ruling one year later. The Austin couple recently tied the knot, making their four year relationship official.

 

It’s amazing,” Sanchez said, “to have your society and your government recognize the legitimacy of your relationship.”

 

Marcus and Heath said Texas is moving in the right direction, but there is still a long road ahead for equality.

 

Austin has been more accepting,” Sanchez said, “but I do think that throughout the state there is still some work to be done around acceptance.”

 

Several days following the Supreme Court’s decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to county clerks saying they could refuse to issue marriage licenses if they felt it violated their religious beliefs.

 

In February the state bar announced they were investigating Paxton, based on allegations that his opinion is a violation of the constitution. Punishment for professional misconduct can range from a reprimand to disbarment.

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