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Texas same-sex couples and their children need legal protection

It is no surprise to most same-sex couples in Dallas that they cannot legally be married in Texas. Even if they leave the state and are married, the moment they step back on Texas soil they are considered single. Yet that has not stopped individuals from forming same-sex relationships and raising children together. Because these family structures are not recognized under the law, however, these couples need to rely on a host of other family law tools to protect themselves.

One of the most common types of protection is a domestic partnership agreement. Again, even though the Marriage Amendment banned same-sex marriage and any other kind of quasi-marriage relationship, Texas courts have typically recognized these agreements when dealing with same-sex couples.

Whether Texas law will change anytime soon remains to be seen, but that hasn't stopped American families from changing. In a piece in The New York Times, the numbers show a boom in same-sex couples raising children. The number of children living with lesbian or gay parents is estimated to be near 2 million children under the age of 18. While this number includes both single and coupled gay parents, the number of same-sex couples is over 100,000, a number that has doubled in the past 10 years.

Will same-sex couples and their families always be accepted in Texas? Possibly not, but that doesn't mean they are going anywhere. There will be gay parents in Dallas and they will need to use what resources are available to them -- such as domestic partnership agreements -- to give their relationships a degree of protection.

Source: The New York Times, "The Changing American Family," Natalie Angier, Nov. 25, 2013

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