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On Fronteras: Battles Continue Over Same-Sex Marriage; Homesteading; And Preserving A River Habitat

Flickr user Fibonacci Blue

On Fronteras this week:

·        Same-sex marriage is the law of the land but in Texas some county officials are resisting

·        A civil rights expert and legal scholar says efforts to slow implementation of Supreme Court rulings is nothing new.  He puts the same-sex marriage ruling into historical context.

·        Congressional Democrats are raising questions about detention centers holding women and children.

·        Tijuana residents are asking the government to save an old river habitat threatened by development.

The Stories:

61 Texas Counties Resist Issuing Same Sex Marriage Licenses 

A landmark Supreme Court decision has same sex couples rushing to get marriage licenses, but clerks in 61 Texas counties are refusing to issue licenses. 

In Dallas County, Judge Denisse Garcia officiated the first same sex marriage vows there.  Jack Evans and George Harris met in 1961 at a party.  Jack is 85, George is 82.

George Harris:  “We’d never thought we’d see the day. We’re very excited and we’ve waited a long time for it. I’m excited to see so many people down here. Love is everywhere, and that’s a great thing.”

But as George and Jack tied the knot, the Texas attorney general was saying it’s OK for county clerks to deny licenses for religious reasons. KERA’s Stella Chavez reports on resistance to the Court ruling in North Texas.    


Hood County has now reversed its stance and says it will issue licenses to same-sex couples as soon as it has application forms that don’t reflect gender.  

Also, since the Supreme Court ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has told judges in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi to wrap up gay marriage cases still pending and to do so in line with the High Court’s decision.  The deadline for doing that is July 17.

Implementing the Historic Supreme Court Ruling

Opposition to implementing Supreme Court rulings is nothing new.  One civil rights expert at the St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio put the same-sex marriage ruling in historical context.  Prof. Al Kauffman also told Texas Public Radio’s Shelley Kofler the Texas Attorney General’s opinion isn’t likely to have an impact.


Democrats Raise Questions Touring Immigrant Detention Centers

Congressional Democrats are raising questions about the detention of women and children who come across the US-Mexico border without valid visas. Texas Public Radio’s David Martin Davies reports there’s continuing pressure to close immigration detention centers in South Texas where families are being held.(Listen to the story included in our program podcast at the top of this post)

New Mexico Mesa Homesteaders Fight To Keep Homes

For at least 40 years people in New Mexico have been homesteading on Pajarito Mesa near Albuquerque. Now the families are fighting to keep their homes.  County authorities say without official roads and permits, the mesa homes are illegal.   Fronteras reporter Marisa Demarco reports that making the families comply with zoning regulations may have something to do with the homes’ location. They happen to sit just south of a huge, proposed new housing development.


Tijuana Residents Ask Government To Save Old River Habitat 

Tijuana residents want the government to preserve one of the city's last river habitats.  Most of Arroyo Alamar is already filled with concrete. But KPBS Fronteras reporter Jean Guerrero says there's a section that may survive.  


Note:  Since the original broadcast of this story the government has halted plans to pave over Arroyo, giving the residents what they want.

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.