27 October 2005 - Thursday

Syntax as poison pill?

Texas has a constitutional amendment election on 8 November. The second proposition on the ballot is the one getting the most attention: it would amend the state constitution to prohibit not only gay marriage but anything resembling gay marriage as a legal status.

I was alarmed to discover what the proposed amendment actually says -- not because of political disagreement but because of an astounding logic problem.

Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:

Sec. 32.

(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

"This state may not recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage"? Not for anybody?

The intended meaning of (b) is fairly clear, of course, because of (a). I suppose a particularly enterprising judge might decide to nullify all marriage in Texas on the basis of this awkward phrasing, but I find it unlikely. (In other words, I don't buy this.)

Still, how many committees and interest groups let this sentence go by without objecting to its structure?

| Posted by Wilson at 15:25 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Power Desk