Naked City

Beyond City Limits

The Texas Defense of Marriage Act passed overwhelmingly in the state Senate on Tuesday; the bill is expected to substitute for its companion in the House. Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos and six other Democrats opposed the legislation, and some tried unsuccessfully to tack on amendments, one to order a state study on the rights denied gay couples (which mustered 11 votes in its favor). San Antonio Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who authored the bill, argued that Texas should follow the lead of 36 other states with similar legislation. Gay rights leaders expect the bill to pass the House, but not without a fierce fight. A veto from Gov. Rick Perry is unlikely. "Perry pranced into the Senate chambers to watch the DOMA vote and to show his support for the bill," said lobbyist Dianne Hardy-Garcia, "so no, I don't think there's any chance of a veto." -- Amy Smith

Only days after his brother Dan was indicted on 12 felony corruption counts, record producer Michael Morales was sentenced to two years in federal prison (the maximum sentence) for attempting to extort $280,000 from Dan Morales' 2002 election opponent Tony Sanchez. The younger Morales called his attempt to blackmail Sanchez by revealing undisclosed information about Sanchez's alleged past misdeeds "naive and foolish." Dan Morales has consistently denied any prior knowledge of his brother's extortion attempt. -- M.C.M.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn -- Dan Morales' nemesis and successor as Texas attorney general -- has co-authored a bill with Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl that would limit the amount attorneys could receive in contingency fees in certain high-dollar cases. Like, for example, the states' tobacco settlements; the indictments against Morales spring from the massive attorneys' fees awarded in the Texas tobacco deal, which Cornyn attacked and investigated during his entire four years as AG. The Kyl-Cornyn bill is part of a national-level tort-reform effort expected to heat up in coming months; Cornyn sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. -- M.C.M.

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