This morning the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear oral arguments on same-sex marriage cases from three states: Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Television viewers across Texas may have noticed a new ad running this week in the lead up to the hearings. The ad is part of Texas for Marriage, a joint campaign by Freedom to Marry and Equality Texas. The spot features members of the Fort Worth Police Department voicing their support for a fellow officer’s freedom to marry.
Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with Mark McKinnon, Texas co-chair of the Freedom to Marry Campaign, about the audience the campaign hopes to reach.
“We’re trying to reach everybody in Texas. A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of marriage equality. That’s been appealed, and that case is being heard today in the Fifth Circuit. So we’re sending the message that it’s time for Texas to get on board,” McKinnon explains. “This ad sends the message that gay people are in every fabric of our society. They’re in our police forces; they’re our teachers, law enforcement… I think as people have gotten used to the fact that gay people are part and parcel of the fabric of our society, as they do that, they recognize it’s time for gay citizens to have all the rights that we all enjoy.”
The ad plays on Texan’s strong sense of freedom to make the case for gay marriage.
“The judicial system has always responded to what they’ve seen going on in society, so we’re just communicating the message that many, many Texans endorse the idea of marriage equality,” McKinnon says. “After all, it’s a very conservative idea. Philosophically, when you think about the idea of it, it’s about more freedom, less government intrusion, and stronger families. “
But that is certainly not the case with many conservative Texans. Few in the legislature support the idea, and incoming Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick campaigned on keeping the law defining marriage between a man and a woman.
“The reality is it’s never going to pass the Texas Legislature, certainly not anytime soon. But that’s going to be a moot point when the Supreme Court takes up the issue as early as June, and that will be the law of the land, and the Texas Legislature will have nothing to say about it,” McKinnon adds.