Women and gay people of Texas, take heart: Tea Partying state senator Dan Patrick has not forgotten you! No, taking away your rights and privileges as human beings is still a cause as near and dear to him as ever, even as many parts of the country—including some parts of Texas—move progressively forward in terms of women’s rights and marriage equality. His recent actions give us Texans a peek into what we can look forward to in state politics in 2013.
Patrick has continued his efforts to turn back the time machine this month with two proposals: that municipalities in Texas that provide domestic partner benefits be investigated by the state’s attorney general, and that medical abortions become harder to obtain than ever.
Patrick, who co-hosts an uber-conservative talk radio show when he’s not standing up for the benighted and oppressed heterosexual white Christian males of his state, has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to opine on whether domestic partner benefits–for both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships—are “violating the [Texas] constitution and circumventing the will of the people.” In 2005, Texas passed a provision that constitutionally defines marriage as “only the union of one man and one woman,” dictating that neither the state nor any of its “political subdivisions” could “create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
It appears as though Patrick got spooked by the increasing number of Texas cities and school districts that provide these kinds of benefits. Among them: Austin, Dallas County, San Antonio, El Paso and the Austin suburb of Pflugerville’s school district.
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We don’t need to stretch our imaginations to wonder what Abbott’s opinion will be: the Republican attorney general intervened in a gay divorce case in Texas in 2010, arguing that because Texas doesn’t recognize gay marriage, it can’t recognize gay divorces. This is the same attorney general who threw a legal fit in October over international delegates coming to the state to monitor polling locations and championed Texas’ unconstitutional voter ID laws. When it comes to the Republican party line, Abbott doesn’t just toe it, he casts it. As friend to Patrick and his ilk, Abbott will almost certainly make sure that Texans can look forward to a fight for their domestic partner benefits.
Patrick has also now rededicated his efforts to make abortions harder to perform and obtain in Texas. Just this week, he took advantage of the earliest opportunity to “pre-file” a bill he hopes to address in Texas’ next legislative session in 2013 which would create new regulations for abortion-inducing medication. Physicians who prescribe the drug would be required to draw up a “contract,” which must be produced “on demand,” with the abortion-seeking person signed by that physician and another physician, who both agree to “treat emergencies arising from the administration or use of the drug,” and who have hospital admitting privileges at a pre-determined location provided to the patient. The bill also dictates that a follow-up examination be scheduled within two weeks and that the physician or their agent make a “reasonable effort” to ensure the patient returns for the exam.
The senator introduced a similar bill in Texas’ 2011 legislative session, but it didn’t pass. Nevertheless, Patrick remains undaunted in his dedication to making life more difficult for anyone who isn’t just like him. Isn’t it nice to know he’s thinking of us?