Texas Constitution
11:13 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Castro Seeking City Attorney Opinion Following Attorney General Ruling On Domestic Benefits

In response to a request by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued an opinion on domestic partner benefits.

Abbott said cities, school districts and other "political subdivisions" who allow benefits to domestic partners are in violation of the Texas Constitution.

Abbott found that "Article 1, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution prohibits political subdivisions from creating a legal status of domestic partnership and recognizing that status by offering public benefits based upon it."

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said he is now seeking the opinion of the city attorney's office to see whether Abbott's opinion would apply to San Antonio since the city council approved benefits to same sex couples in its 2012 budget.

In a statement, Castro said if the opinion does apply, he wants to know what the city council's options are.

He said he doesn't think the city's policy violates the state constitution and that the attorney general's opinion is "wrong for San Antonio and a step backwards for Texas."

A statewide coalition of pastors has applauded Abbott's statement because the group believes the opinion protects the traditional definition of marriage.

The coalition said it will hold entities like the Pflugerville ISD, the cities of El Paso, San Antonio, and Austin, Dallas County, and other political subdivisions that have extended domestic partner benefits accountable to the standard set by Abbott.

In their own statement, the coalition urges city leaders to "do the right thing and comply with the law without legal action or political upheaval."

Austin city leaders said, "It is our belief that part of being a best managed city includes respecting diversity and inclusion."