Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jonathan Saenz: Pflugerville ISD Power Grab Breaks Texas Same-Sex Marriage Constitutional Amendment

Op-Ed by Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values Published in the Statesman: 

The Pflugerville power grab

In Texas, government officials are not above the Texas Constitution. In addition to defining marriage as only a “union of one man and one woman,” the Texas Constitution states “this state, or a political subdivision of this state, may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” Efforts by the government to legally recognize “domestic partnerships” are a clear violation of the Texas Constitution.

The Texas Marriage Amendment was passed in 2005 by an overwhelming majority of over 76 percent of Texas voters after having been passed by a bipartisan supermajority in the Texas Legislature. The reason was and still is as clear as the text of our Constitution itself: Texans support the definition of marriage as it has always been and reject all other legal statuses seeking to undermine our most basic and important social institution.

But that hasn’t kept the homosexual lobby and their enablers in various parts of government from trying. The most recent example: Pflugerville Independent School District Superintendent Charles Dupre made an executive policy change to create a “domestic partnership” category, similar to marriage in several ways, that will allow the district to provide benefits to same-sex partners. The district’s “affidavit of Domestic Partnership” requirements include not being married to someone, being at least 18 years of age and not a blood relative, to name a few.

Sound like marriage? This was done without the approval of the elected school board members, without any evidence of a financial impact analysis or without even a public hearing. This power grab by an unelected government official looks more like what we expect from Washington, D.C., than how things get done in Texas.

The people of Pflugerville were clearly not happy about being ignored and dismissed as irrelevant. Residents responded by overwhelming the next school board meeting, with outraged residents forced to stand as every seat was filled. One after another, members of the community showed up to voice their opposition to the substance and process of this anti-Constitution decision by Dupre. Is this how the government works in Pflugerville — govern by force and might, and shut the people out? Has Dupre forgotten that his salary is paid by the taxpayers?

With the outrage building, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, requesting an opinion on whether the Texas Constitution’s definition of marriage precludes any governmental body in Texas from recognizing a domestic partnership legal status by allowing the government to provide benefits to same-sex partners. As Patrick stated, “The will and the respect of the Texas people is being trampled, and I cannot sit by and watch this any longer.” I agree.

This reckless and poorly planned decision is a prime example of why we must demand accountability from our government. If nothing else, government officials are at least expected to follow the law. And now that the Texas attorney general’s office is involved in investigating this matter, we expect this clear violation of the Texas Constitution to be exposed, laying blame squarely at the feet of Dupre. But the elected Pflugerville school board is also at fault. The people of Pflugerville had been emailing and calling the school board about this matter long before their meeting on Oct. 18th. In fact, the district was presented with a specific letter at the board meeting from state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa and House author of the Texas Marriage Amendment, on how this new policy violates the actual words and intent of our Texas Constitution.

The district’s refusal to address this matter, in light of the outcry of Pflugerville residents and the concerns about the constitutionality of this policy, shows they must approve and support the actions of Charles Dupre, the new King of Pflugerville.

Yes it’s true. It seems a monarchy has arrived in Pflugerville, and King Dupre is accountable to no one, except maybe to the ACLU and the homosexual lobby. Is this how we want our local government run — by Washington, D.C., groups and unaccountable government officials? I suspect that our elected attorney general and other state lawmakers will see this issue differently, and they should. And so should you, the Texas voter and taxpayer.

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