Texas Matters
1:34 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Spotlight On Texas Same-Sex Marriage Ban In Run Up To March Primaries

Texas Matters: More from the hearing in San Antonio Wednesday in the case challenging the Texas ban on same-sex marriage. Arguments have been made and a federal judge is now formulating a decision. If the judge strikes down the ban, the case will be immediately appealed to the conservative U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. A comprehensive look at all the issues leading into the March primary election. Also on this show: How the border region is reacting to political ads.

Same-sex marriage debate hits Texas

This week saw two more states join the growing number unable to support their ban on same-sex marriage. A federal judge on Thursday evening declared that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and in Kentucky -- another Southern state -- a federal judge ruled that the state must honor same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

The ruling did not, however, address Kentucky’s own ban on such marriages, an issue not before the court that day.

But a constitutional ban was before the court in Texas. On Wednesday the latest skirmish in the culture war over same-sex marriage came to a San Antonio federal courtroom. After two hours of legal arguments about the constitutionality of the Texas ban, there was no decision from the bench.

Barry Chasnoff, an attorney for plaintiffs:

"State rights is the oldest argument made anytime there's not a really good basis for doing something. They say 'Oh, the state has a right to do it.' As I said, the state used to think it had a right to segregate its schools. The state used to think it had a right to prohibit blacks and Hispanics from juries. Those are not state rights and the state does not have a right to unconstitutionally limit same-sex couples from marrying the people they love."

Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values, a group pushing to uphold the ban:

A banner supporting the state ban on same-sex marriage hangs outside the federal court building.
Credit David Martin Davies / TPR News

"At one point the homosexual advocates advocating for their side said that they were not trying to redefine marriage. That is not true. This entire effort is an effort to redefine marriage and is a clear and direct attack on the definition of marriage as it is and it always has been."

Texas primaries, here we come!

Early voting in the Texas primaries begins on Tuesday and runs until Friday, Feb. 28. Actual primary day is Tuesday, March 4.

For the last several months candidates have been crisscrossing the state looking for interested party voters to persuade and raising money, spending most of it on air time to run their 30-second political ads.

But for all their efforts, how informed are the voters about the candidates and how many people will actually vote in the primaries?

Texas has a track record for have the lowest voter turnout in the nation and due to the noncompetitive nature of our general election situation that means the few who vote in the primaries essentially get to pick the states leaders.

Credit Chris Eudaily / TPR News

Harvey Kronberg, editor of the online political newsletter The Quorum Report, says even the outlandish notion of pushing back the primary to give voters more time to get up to speed wouldn't make much difference.

"I'm not sure that it would produce any more informed voters because with rare exceptions, nobody down ballot is talking about anything -- certainly on the Republican side -- other than metaphors and socially-conservative issues. There's very little conversation about the real issues facing the State of Texas."

Also on this edition of Texas Matters:

Border residents defend themselves against political ads

Many of the candidates running for republican nominations are running ads about their plan to get tough on the border. And those ads are also running in the border region of Texas. Groups on the border say these ads are sending them a negative message that’s not connected to their lives.

Martha Sanchez is a organizing coordinator in the Rio Grande Valley for La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE).

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