Debate over Texas marriage laws continues in downtown Austin - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Debate over Texas marriage laws continues in downtown Austin

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AUSTIN (KVUE)-- As many groups continue to petition for marriage equality in Texas, on Tuesday some Texans say they're petitioning to keep the law as it is.

Conservative group Texas Values held a press conference along with several other church, legal and academic groups. Dozens of them are filing legal briefings to show support for the current Texas marriage law.

Same-sex marriage supporters say they're not giving up the fight to change it.

Backed by an array of supporters in downtown Austin, Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values says they're speaking out to keep Texas law the way it is.

"Over 20 groups filed legal briefs yesterday and leading up to yesterday. Making it clear that Texas has the right to define marriage as one man and one woman," Saenz said.

They filed the briefs with the Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday. In February a federal judge declared Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Saenz argues it's quite the opposite.

"In 2005 this issue of the definition of marriage went through the legislation process the appropriate way when it was being debated, and this issue of defining marriage as one man and one woman was supported by two-thirds of a legislature with bipartisan support," he explained.

Saenz says in 2005 76 percent of voters agreed too. But those who support same-sex marriage say a lot has changed since then.

'"The more people who are willing to come out, the more people who are willing to share their story, the more we're going to continue to see that to change," said Brian Stephens.

Stephens is co-founder of The Handsome Father, an Austin group that provides support to gay dads. He and his partner adopted their son Clark in 2007.

"We can see in all families - gay or straight - that love really is what makes a family," he said.

Just last week he and his family joined other couples and supporters to deliver more than 5,000 petitions to Attorney General Greg Abbott, urging lawmakers to drop the ban on same-sex marriage.

"I think that marriage equality is not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," he said.

Still, those defending Texas marriage laws as is say state lawmakers and voters have spoken.

"There is value in having marriage between one man and one woman," Saenz said.

Abbott filed the state's appellate brief last week in support of Texas marriage laws. Texas Values has also started a petition in favor of current marriage laws that will be given to Abbott. Saenz says they have collected more than 15,000 signatures so far.

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