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State Sen. Jose Rodriguez wants El Paso to lead way in equality for gay couples

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Feb 15 2013 08:11:35 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:09:17 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

State Senator Jose Rodriguez hopes El Paso will lead the way in equality of gay couples.

"There's no question in my mind that El Paso is the most progressive city in this state of Texas... We've come to recognize that as human beings, we all have the same aspiration, we all want stable, loving relationship and we should allow people to have that," he said in an interview on Friday.

Rodriguez has filed a bill to overturn Texas' ban on gay marriage. It's an uphill battle.  In 2005, 76 percent of Texas voters defined marriages as a union of one man and one woman. In heavily democratic El Paso, 68 percent of voters voted for the same amendment that banned gay marriage.

"We have 8 years since that happened and there's been a lot of change in attitudes." Since then, El Paso voters have shown signs of change.  Making history, they elected the first openly pansexual legislator, State Representative Mary Gonzalez. Pansexual means gender is not a factor when it comes to who she's attracted to and she's open to dating women, men and transgenders.

El Paso voters also elected a congressman, Beto O'Rourke, who's completely clear about his advocacy for gay marriage.

"When two people love each other, they should be able to get married," he said early in the campaign season.

But the voting record of the El Paso constituency also, at times, does not reflect a support for gay marriage.  Few have forgotten that bitter public battle when the city extended health insurance for unmarried and gay couples.

Many were shocked when 55 percent of El Paso voters decided not to extend health benefits to domestic and gay partners. Yet Rodriguez is hopeful and he's willing to start the discussion.

"Those states like Texas who have these prohibitions are living in another era, in another time when people viewed gay as something totally foreign and different and people were afraid of it... It's very simple. Everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law. Everyone should be treated equally. It's the right thing to do."

It's unclear when the bill will be heard by a committee as controversial legislation usually takes longer to get through the pipeline.

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