Abbott and Domestic Partner Benefits

By Comments

Senator Dan Patrick and Attorney General Greg Abbott have teamed up to try to prohibit Texas employers from providing domestic partnership benefits to their workers. Patrick got the ball rolling when he discovered that Pflugerville ISD offered domestic partnership benefits to employees. Abbott made his ruling through an Attorney General’s opinion, which Patrick had sought. The basis of the ruling was Article I, Sec. 32 of the Texas Constitution, which reads:

Sec. 32.  MARRIAGE. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. (b)  This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

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Abbott is presumed to be the heir-apparent to Rick Perry as governor. (Yes, I am assuming that Perry will not run again.)  Here’s my concern: Abbott’s ruling may be good politics for him, but is it good for Texas? In particular, it will hurt those who seek to bring major corporations to Texas. Perhaps Abbott should have reflected that Texas has aggressively courted businesses from out of state to move here. Most major national corporations, the kind of businesses all of us would like to see located in Texas, provide domestic partnership benefits. The serious issue here is whether Texas’s, and Abbott’s, anti-gay ruling will discourage companies from moving to this state.

I think Abbott’s ruling is bad for Abbott, bad for the Republican Party, and bad for Texas. This is yet another affirmation that the state party has no clue about the meaning of the 2012 elections, and that the kind of prejudice the ruling reveals only serves to increase the isolation of Texas from national political trends. In the long run, this ruling is virtually certain to result in some businesses that are looking to relocate making the decision to move somewhere other than Texas.

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