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Same-sex couples to rally for equality

Feb. 14, 2011 at 10:13 AM   |   Comments

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AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Same-sex couples across the United States plan a Valentine's Day push for equality by seeking marriage licenses at county clerk's offices, organizers say.

Tiffani Bishop of Austin, Texas, said she and others hope to draw attention the fact that most states still ban same-sex couples from marrying as part of the February Freedom to Marry month activities, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

"Marriage is a civil right, not a heterosexual privilege," Bishop said.

Texas law defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In 2005, Texans approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex civil unions and marriages.

"It's very clear ... that we cannot issue a marriage license except between a man and a woman," Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia said. "We've handled it before."

"There are an estimated 17,444 children being raised by same-sex couples in Texas," said Michael Diviesti, state coordinator for GetEQUAL TX, an Austin-based organization working to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. "Texas politicians claim to want to protect my fellow Texans and their families. Instead they have fought and so far succeeded in placing restrictions on (same-sex) families that ensure that they have few if any of the protections given to children raised in heterosexual households."

Pat Carlson, president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum, said she doesn't support the movement.

"There is a continual effort by the homosexual community to push their agenda on the rest of us," Carlson said. "The bottom line is they are trying to destroy traditional marriage as we know it in the country and make their lifestyle the norm. "

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