Pro-Marriage Advocates Increase Awareness Before Vote on Texas Marriage Amendment

A vote to amend the Texas constitution to protect the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman is coming up on Nov. 8. Pro-marriage advocates are working to increase awareness as thousands of churches have already taken part in a voter registration drive, being asked to “vote their Christian convictions” on the issue.

Supporters of the amendment, known as Proposition 2, are remaining tense in the weeks leading up to the vote, which could face a challenge from gay rights activists if turnout at the polls is low. Participation by the electorate has been low in elections regarding marriage issues in recent years despite the state’s conservative reputation.

“The majority of Texans believe marriage is between a man and a woman. The biggest issue we have is getting the word out. Most people have no idea the election is coming,” said Kelly Shackelford the head of Texans for Marriage, according to the New York Times.

Passing Proposition 2 could continue the trend of states that have already altered their state constitutions with similar measures, which proponents say will pave the way for a federal amendment to protect marriage. For that to happen, three fourths of the states would need to amend their state constitutions. So far, 18 states have voted to do so.

Supporters of the measure also say that the state amendment is necessary to bolster a 2003 law – passed with a turnout of only 12 percent of the electorate – that prohibits same-sex marriage. They say the amendment would be added insurance against judges that would rule against marriage as jurists in Massachusetts and California have done.

“State law is completely ineffectual against an activist state judge,” Shackelford added.

Shackelford, who has registered "Texans for Marriage" as a political action committee, warned that the opposition is very well organized. At a hearing in Austin on the matter earlier this year, he said he was the "only one" standing in support of traditional marriage.

“It was myself in favor of the amendment to keep marriage a man and a woman, and I was the only one. And there were 400 homosexuals and lesbians who showed up on the other side,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network.

In addition to pro-marriage voters, Churches are also being called to participate in the November vote. The Texas Restoration Project, which is chaired by Rev. Laurence White of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, has been organizing a voter-registration in over two thousand churches.

The project is having what it calls "Citizenship Sundays" that are "intended and designed to encourage the voters then registered to turn out and vote and to vote as Christians, to vote not on the basis of their party affiliation or their economic status or their ethnic background but as Christians,” the Rev. White told the Houston Chronicle in September.

The liberal religious watchdog group, Texas Freedom Network, has alleged that the voter registration project is engaging in political activities and is part of the governor’s re-election campaign. The governor has endorsed the marriage proposition. TFN has also called for the Texas Restoration Project to disclose its sources of funding.

The Rev. White told the Dallas Morning News that he has not made any formal endorsements and does not have to register because the Texas Freedom Network asks only that voters register and calls for preachers to tell their church members to "vote their Christian convictions."