On the morning of July 28, a group of same-sex families and members of Equality Texas had a special message to deliver to the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — but they had a hard time finding someone to accept it.
The group had collected more than 5,000 signed petitions urging Texas lawmakers to drop their defense of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The law, along with a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, was overturned by a federal judge in San Antonio in February, but Texas lawmakers have appealed that decision and continue to defend the ban.
"Most Texans are now saying that love is love,” says Chuck Smith, the executive director of Equality Texas.
Chuck Smith, the executive director of Equality Texas, tells CultureMap that the organization had gathered 5,247 petitions over the past 10 days. The delivery to Abbott's office was meant to coincide with a recent court ruling in Miami that favors marriage equality for same-sex couples in Florida. Smith says it is now the 27th consecutive court ruling in the country backing marriage equality.
“Members of our staff went to the offices in person on Friday to make sure that they were the correct offices and if someone would meet with us when we delivered the petitions,” says Smith. “We told them we weren’t going to have a rally and they said that while no one could meet with us, they would accept the petitions.”
But when the group came by to make the delivery on Monday, the office said they couldn’t accept them unless a ground carrier such as UPS delivered them. When the Equality Texas group asked for a delivery address, they were given a post office box, which can’t be delivered to by most carriers.
Smith said that the group ended up walking down the street to a post office and mailing the petitions. But for Smith, the Attorney General's office treatment of the marriage equality advocates stung more than the $40 postage cost. “It was just another example of these families being disrespected,” says Smith.
However, Smith feels very positive about the prospects of the ban on same-sex marriage being overturned in the future. “I honestly don’t think it’s that long of a road now. According to the most recent polling conducted in April by Texas Tech University, the majority of Texans now support marriage equality for the first time. Most Texans are now saying that love is love,” he says.