What does it mean for Texas now that the U.S. Supreme Court says a key part of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional? Because Texas has its own DOMA law, there will be no immediate changes for most, but for others, perhaps.
Jeff Mateer, general counsel for the conservative-leaning Liberty Institute in Plano, says this ruling only affects benefits of same sex couples who are already married in states where it’s legal. But Texas doesn’t perform, allow or even recognize such marriages. This ruling does not change that.
“I think Texans have spoken pretty strongly on it," Mateer says. "So I think for today, Texas will continue to adhere to the traditional view of marriage."
That view says a marriage is between a man and a woman. Mateer doesn’t see Texas legalizing gay marriage any time soon.
But for gay couples in Texas who were legally married in other states, this decision could make a big difference, according to attorney Ken Upton. He’s with Lambda Legal in Dallas, an organization that advocates for gay and lesbian rights. Upton says legally married gay couples could now gain federal marriage benefits like Social Security or tax benefits from the IRS.
“With most federal benefits you will keep your benefits," he says. "I think that the vast majority will be transferable and you won’t lose them as you move. Like the military, ‘once married always married,’ because people move so much.”
Upton says legally married gay couples in Texas can now take advantage of at least 1,000 such federal benefits.