The Texas Attorney General says San Antonio and other cities, counties, and ISD's which offer benefits normally reserved for married couples to the same sex partners of employees are violating Texas law and he says the practice needs to be stopped, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The city of San Antonio in 2012 extended the right to receive insurance coverage and other benefits to the same sex partners of city, CPS Energy, and San Antonio Water system employees. The Attorney General's opinion is 'advisory' and will not force the city to change its policy.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, in a seven page opinion obtained by 1200 WOAI news, says the cities use the term 'domestic partnership' to 'common to mean a relationship that an employer or governmental entry recognizes as equivalent to marriage for the purpose of extending employee partner benefits otherwise reserved for the spouses of employees.'
Abbott says while the various governmental agencies have slightly different criteria to determine whether applicants qualify for domestic partnership status.
"A commonality among all political subdivisions, however, is that they use criteria usually associated with marriage," Abbott writes. "For example, the Family Code prohibits a county clerk from issuing a marriage license to a person who is presently married, related to the other applicant within a certain degree of consanguinity, or under 18 years of age except in limited circumstances."
Abbott says since the state sets out clear 'bright lines' for determining what is and what is not a marriage, subdivisions are prohibited from recognizing those relationships as marriage.
"Applying the ordinary definition of 'similar,' a court is likely to conclude that the domestic partnership legal status about which you inquire is 'similar in marriage' and therefore barred by article I, section 32 of the Texas Constitution."
That is the section which was approved by voters in 2005 which dictates that marriage is between one man and one woman only.
Abbott says his opinion is despite claims which were made by sponsors of the Amendment that it would not 'stop them (cities and counties) from providing health benefits to same sex partners.'
Abbott contends that the U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in the California case of Hollingsworth v. Perry could have the impact of overturning his opinion, and could overturn the Constitutional amendment which defines marriage.