Brian Thompson

As Interviewed by Cole Kennedy, March 19, 2015

Brian Thompson: In His Own Words

I’m Brian Thompson, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m 35 now years old, and I am an attorney. I went to LSU for college and then I went to UT Law School for law school, and now I am practicing law in Austin, Texas.

I think when I went to school and where I went to school it would have been unthinkable for anyone to even live openly as a gay or lesbian student, and then I think we’ve gone through a transition in the last 20 years where that’s not unthinkable anymore. Where there are kids who say at a very young age that they are gay or lesbian or bisexual or whatever, and you know I think there was a time, I’m sure it’s still happening where kids got bullied pretty badly, but I think we are going to enter into a next phase where that is going to kind of be, commonplace. It’s just going to be, okay well, so what, move on (laughs).

I had a friend who she was in a relationship with a woman and her name is Sonemaly which is not easy to spell. She’s from Laos originally. She was in a relationship with a woman and they had a wedding ceremony, although it wasn’t legal for them to be married in the State of Texas, yet. They had a wedding ceremony, they lived together, they shared financial obligations, they had a house together and then Stella got colon cancer and died back in June or July of last year. And we went to her memorial service and I told Som that if she needed any help with the estate or anything like that to give me a call and at this point Som had told me that everything was good, that Stella’s family was being nice and there was cooperation and she thought that everything was going to be fine. The original agreement was that they were just going to split every 50/50. Fifty percent would go to Som and fifty percent would go to Stella’s siblings and mother. Then it got ugly and for example, Stella was cremated and Som wanted the ashes and they were fighting over the ashes which is terrible and the family started to get really ugly and so what we are trying to do is prove that Texas has this thing called common law marriage which means that even though you don’t get a marriage certificate at the courthouse, that if you hold yourself out as being married and you agree that you’re married, and you live together then the State of Texas says “that’s a marriage” just like any other. And so what we are trying to do is prove that Sonemaly and Stella were in a common law marriage, but because the State of Texas doesn’t recognize marriage between people of the same sex we had to first get the court to say that that law was unconstitutional. That’s kind of our first hurdle. The next hurdle in the case is we have to show the Court that they agreed to be married, they held themselves out as being married and that they lived together. That’s not going to be a problem. They were married. I was at their wedding.

I think Texas will be told that they have to allow same-sex marriages. I don’t think they’re going to have to do it on their own. Texas is one of only 17 states where it’s still not legal. We’re definitely in the minority.

I think that you’ve probably met gay people and you probably have gay friends and you probably realize that gay people are normal people. There are a large segment of voters in the State of Texas that cannot say that. They’re from places out in West Texas that they’ve never met a gay person before and they are often very religious and they see, you know they read what the Bible says and they don’t have any other context because they’ve never met gay people before. I think that the people out in West Texas might really believe it because they’ve just never really been exposed to anything else. And they’re kinda scared of what they don’t know about. Even now at 35, I tend to think that people are generally good at heart, it’s just that a lot of times they’re just scared of what they don’t know. And I think that in this case there’s a lot of people that just don’t know. I mean, they’ve never met a gay person. And that’s one of the things that polls tell you is that the thing that can change someone’s mind the most on this issue is knowing a gay person. And realizing that we’re not crazy or evil or whatever.

On that issue I think education like making sure voters realize that it’s still legal in Texas to fire someone because they’re gay. I think that’s kind of number one is you have to make sure that the people who are voting even know that this is an issue. And then you have to elect people who think that this is a priority and think that this should be changed.

I think that marriage is probably going to happen soon. I don’t know about the other stuff. I mean it seems to me like unfortunately at least at the state level we are kinda going backwards on who we are electing. I mean there ain’t no way a non-discrimination bill for employment is going to get passed in this legislature. It could be that like with other things that Texas and the rest of the other southern states are pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century on these issues. But, you know, that just may be what we have to do.