Austin City Council supports same-sex marriage


Various civil rights groups gathered at a landmark Austin City Hall meeting to hear an announcement they have awaited for years–a resolution to support marriage equality in the state of Texas. 

Equality Texas, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the NAACP were among those present in the Council Chambers of Austin City Hall last Thursday morning.

“It’s very telling of the environment of the city we live in and sends a message to Texas that Austin stands with its LGBT citizens” said Austin Human Rights Commissioner Elizabeth Brenner.

Under this amendment, the resolution made by the Austin City Council will have no formal effects and the practice will still be illegal.

Adviser to the PRIDE group on St. Edward’s campus, Professor Alexandra Barron, said this action will still place Austin on the right side of history.

“My hope is their decision challenges other cities, states, and institutions to think about how to support and value all of their constituents,” said Barron.” “And I’m glad to live in a city where council members come to the Pride parade and the mayor is one of the main proponents of a marriage equality endorsement.”

The resolution, sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and co-sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, received unanimous support from all seven members of the Council.

Austin is the first major city in Texas to formally endorse same-sex marriage, although mayors of several other cities including Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio have signed petitions in support of marriage equality. 

Documents used to support the resolution in the meeting cite recent studies including a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll which showed that 63% of Texans now support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. Whether it is for marriage or civil unions, these numbers were used to argue for a major shift in public opinion on the matter of marriage equality since the Texas Constitutional Marriage Amendment.

Backed by Rick Perry in 2005, the Texas Constitutional Marriage Amendment formally defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and made clear that no marriage or civil union between persons of the same gender would be recognized by the state, regardless of the jurisdiction in which it was created.

“The action was symbolic given that the City of Austin can’t change statewide law,” said Brenner. “It means a lot to LGBT citizens of Austin to know that their city fully supports them and values equality for everyone.”

For the PRIDE group at St. Edward’s, “it means we are moving forward together” said Matthew Medrano, who serves as Events Coordinator. 

St. Edward’s PRIDE group was recently involved in the Austin PRIDE Parade and will be involved in more events soon, including Ally Week which runs October 15-19.