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Local Couple Reflects On Love, Says Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Marriage Have Changed

Courtesy photo
Eliza McAdams (right) and Christina Parker embrace after Parker's proposal.

On Wednesday a federal judge in San Antonio will hear arguments challenging the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage a union between "one man and one woman."

But whatever the judge rules, the issue will likely remain unsettled, leaving same-sex couples in Texas to wonder what their future holds.

Just ask Eliza McAdams and Christina Parker. They're a same-sex couple who always felt one day they would be legally married.

"Even at the beginning of our relationship, both of us looked at each other and said, 'This is what we want out of our relationship. We want, we want marriage, like this is where we're going,'" Parker said.

It was just before Christmas last year when Parker sat at work nervously wondering when she'd pop the question.

A rush of emotions came over her and that's when she decided. She rushed out to a jewelry store and bought the ring.

"I was a little nervous that I might get kicked out or get really nasty looks, or something like that, but everybody was very positive, like I didn't really have any negative experience at all," Parker said.

The actual proposal happened soon after – it was backstage after a performance McAdams was in.

"She handed me the drink," McAdams said. "And then she went down on her knee and I'm just like 'Oh, God! Oh God! This is happening!'"

The story is a familiar one to millions of other couples following tradition on their way to getting married. But under present law in Texas -- because this is a same gender couple -- they can't legally be married here.

McAdams and Parker say they are hoping the court hearing in San Antonio will change that when a federal judge will hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of the 2005 Texas Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Credit Chris Eudaily / TPR News
TPR News
The federal court challenge in Texas will add it to New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma, which all have federal court challenges in progress. Source info: Human Rights Watch, news reports.

Proposition 2 passed in Texas with an overwhelming 76 percent of the vote – making Texas the 19th state to ban same-sex marriage at the time.

But Parker said a lot has changed with public opinion since that election just nine years ago.

"Just in my lifetime I've gone from experiences with having very negative interactions with people where I've been called very ugly things to my face," said Parker. "And now to go and try to find a ring and everybody I meet is excited about the fact of I'm going to be proposing and nobody really blinked an eye of the fact that I'm going to be proposing to another woman."

Still, many people in Texas continue to be opposed to same sex marriage.

Jonathan Saenz is with the conservative group Texas Values. He said there’s a pattern in other states, like Utah and Oklahoma, of the federal government forcing its anti-traditional views about marriage onto the majority of people.

And Saenz said that’s wrong.

"I think this move is a hollow victory because it's clear that they could not get something like this passed as far as legislation," Saenz said, "couldn't do it at the federal level, certainly couldn't do it in Texas. And so they have to abuse their power or use powers that they don't have to force these policies on states like Texas and 30 other states that have made clear what the definition of marriage is."

"That should not be allowed in America," Saenz said.

If the federal judge does rule in favor of marriage equality on Wednesday, it’s likely to be immediately appealed by the state. The case would then go to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and is expected to eventually move to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court, which last June stuck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The question they will tackle is: Does a state have the right to define marriage?

Meanwhile McAdams and Parker have that ring. Parker popped that question. They are just waiting for the answer -- not about their commitment to each other, but about their rights.

"To the people that are against the marriage-equality idea, the only thing I have to say to them is, 'Just don't be afraid. I know that it can be scary, I know that you don't understand, but we're not here to hurt you. We really just want to be happy and want to be protected under the law. That's all we're here for," Parker said.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.