A federal judge on Wednesday struck down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it unconstitutional. It may be a while, however, until gay couples wishing to marry see the effects of the ruling. Though U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia granted a preliminary injunction against enforcing the ban, the ruling won’t take effect until it is reviewed on appeal.
Plaintiffs Cleopatra De Leon and her partner Nicole Dimetman filed the lawsuit against Texas officials, claiming the state did not recognize their marriage even though it was conducted legally in another state. Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes also filed a federal civil rights suit, calling the ban unconstitutional.
In his decision, Garcia wrote, “Today’s Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.” Garcia ruled that the ban on gay marriage violates the equal protection and due process rights of some U.S. citizens and “demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, is very likely to appeal Garcia’s ruling. Abbott opposes gay marriage and says he will defend the Texas ban all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Democrat Wendy Davis, who will likely challenge Abbott for the governorship, has called on the state's attorney to end his defense of the Texas law. In an interview with San Antonio Express-News, Davis told the editorial board, “It's my strong belief that when people love each other and are desirous of creating a committed relationship with each other that they should be allowed to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Seventeen U.S. states currently allow same-sex marriage. Most recently, federal district courts in Illinois and Virginia ruled in favor of gay couples wishing to marry.
Garcia’s and similar federal rulings are expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The politically-charged issue was most recently addressed by the court when it struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that failed to recognize legally married gay couples.
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