Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Defense of Marriage Act

Summary of Achievement

Gov. Perry believes in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, regarding it as the linchpin of the family unit and, thus, society as a whole. In 2003, as part of his ongoing effort to prevent aggressive attempts to redefine marriage, Gov. Perry signed Senate Bill 6, the Defense of Marriage Act, specifying that Texas does not legally recognize a same-sex marriage or civil union. Two years later, Gov. Perry supported strengthening the law with a constitutional amendment, the Texas Marriage Amendment, defining marriage as the “union of one man and one woman.” It was approved by Texas voters in November 2005.

The Challenge

While Texas law has prohibited the issuance of a marriage license for a union of persons of the same sex for many years, it did not define civil unions prior to 2003.  During this period, local officials around the United States were challenging state laws defining marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act by allowing the issuance of marriage licenses to two people of the same gender. For example, in 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision legalizing same-sex marriage under the Massachusetts Constitution.

Action / Initiative

The Texas Defense of Marriage Act signed by Gov. Perry in 2003 mirrors the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and stipulates that the state does not recognize a marriage or civil union between persons of the same sex, regardless of the jurisdiction in which it is created.  Texas further prevented challenges to the state statute by adopting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and woman.

The Outcome

The approval of the Texas Marriage Amendment by voters in Nov. 2005 specified the definition of marriage in the Texas Constitution as the union of one man and one woman. It protects the longstanding social practice of recognizing only the union of a man and a woman as a marriage, and reinforced the Texas Defense of Marriage Act of 2003 prohibiting any political entity in the state from recognizing the union of two people of the same gender.