Despite a Texas constitution that only recognizes marriages between one man and one woman, the Austin City Council on Thursday (27 September) unanimously voted to formally endorse gay marriage.
‘One thing we have learned is that simple, symbolic acts matter,’ Councilwoman Sheryl Cole said at a press conference after the vote.
Cole said the next step is working to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which was approved by Texas voters in 2005. It strengthened a ban on gay marriage the state legislature adopted in 2003 and specifies that Texas does not legally recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions.
But Austin has already proven itself to be more progressive on LGBT equality than the state as a whole. The city already offers health benefits to same-sex couples and businesses in Austin are prohibited from firing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Chuck Smith, interim director of Equality Texas said: ‘This is part of a forward movement. People are recognizing that it doesn’t make sense to exclude committed couples from the institution of marriage.’