Though it was touted as an informal Q&A format, Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina’s recent visit to TAMIU became more of a motivational speech.
TAMIU alumnus Tijerina’s speech also included a discussion on his life and personal views Thursday, Sept. 21, in the Student Center Ballroom, with pizza and drinks.
He invited students to interrupt him with questions at anytime and indicated he would speak candidly when answering questions.
Alex DeLeon, a student pursuing his master’s degree in historical and political science, decided to get the Q&A back on track, “Have you changed your view on same-sex marriage and do you believe that not only should all citizens have equal protection under the law, but we should fight for citizens’ rights no matter what the expense?”
Without hesitation, Tijerina responded, “My view has not changed and will not change and never changes because I have one God and one God only.”
DeLeon’s question came from observing the judge’s decision to remove himself from preforming marriages, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
Kimberly Tijerina, the judge’s spouse, clarified that the executive branch is not required to perform any type of marriage, which is something a county judge presides over. She also clarified that the judge does not perform any type of marriage in order to remain equal and ethical.
Both of the Tijerina answers satisfied part of DeLeon’s question, the student later told The Bridge; however, they failed to see his concern when it came to the judge’s inability to recognize bias in regards to a particular group of people due to his religious beliefs. DeLeon said he questions Tijerina’s ability to serve the LGBT community of Laredo. DeLeon is not a member of the LGBT community but is an ally concerned for LGBT rights.
Juan Ruiz, a member of the Political Action Committee and the LGBT community, responded to Tijerina’s same-sex marriage statement.
“When confronted with sexual identity on political issues, he will stick to his guns and not sway his interest,” Ruiz said.
When asked if he thought the judge would uphold the law, equally and fairly in other matters, regardless of sexual orientation, Ruiz believes Tijerina will uphold the law and rule in an unbiased way, with the exception of same-sex marriage.
Student Government Association President Gabriel M. Martinez was one of the event organizers.
“I believe the role of SGA is to bring the information to the students and make sure they not only feel politically informed, but also well represented within the university,” Martinez said.
Reflecting back on Tijerina’s presentation, Ruiz said he was excited about the student attendance, whether they were there for the pizza and drinks or to learn more about county government. He also expressed disappointment in the lack of audience questions.
Ruiz said he is hopeful that as more political figures speak at TAMIU, the students will feel more comfortable about asking hard-hitting questions such as the one DeLeon presented. Ruiz also appreciated the judge’s motivational speech and believes the students who attended were motivated with something to take away from the session.