Lawmaker files bill to create civil unions in Texas - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Lawmaker files bill to create civil unions in Texas

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As more states take the steps to legalize same-sex marriage, Texas could create civil unions. State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa has filed a bill that would give gay couples the same rights and benefits as married couples.

"Every person ought to be treated with dignity and respect. The gay community is that: the gay community. They're part of our families, part of our military, part of our workplace and they ought to have the right to enter into civil unions, enter agreements to protect their families and their rights," Senator Hinojosa said.

Jonathan Saenz, President of conservative group Texas Values, points out that the 2005 Texas "Defense of Marriage Act" defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

"This is the most important social institution in our society and there's a reason why it continues to be limited to a man and woman, it works the best. The reality is that in the state of Texas we've spoken very clearly on this issue. We have a constitutional amendment on this issue so there's no question on where people stand," Saenz said.

But, Senator Hinojosa says that in fact that issue has been called into question in recent years with more support for civil unions.

"You can never get 100 percent support, but I feel confident that the majority of my constituents support treating each individual with dignity and respect," Senator Hinojosa said.

Austin residents we spoke with feel the same way.

"I think it's about time. I'm really excited we're moving forward," one woman tells FOX 7.

A man adds, "I think it should be supported. Equal rights for everybody, honestly." And another says, "I think it's a good step, but not enough. Gay marriage should be acknowledged as a marriage and we need more than just civil unions."

The bill would take effect in 2014 only if a constitutional amendment was passed by the Texas legislature and voters to repeal the defense of marriage act to include civil unions.

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