Texas Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban

A federal judge today rules Texas's marriage ban unconstitutional.

BY Michelle Garcia

February 26 2014 2:46 PM ET UPDATED: February 28 2014 1:55 PM ET

(l-r) Mark Phariss & Victor Holmes

A federal judge today struck down Texas's law banning same-sex marriage.

District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on marriage last summer trumps Texas's state constitutional amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2005.

“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” he said in his order, The Dallas Morning News reports. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by two couples, Cleo DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss.

Garcia stayed his ruling from taking effect until the case goes through the appeal process, so same-sex couples in Texas cannot being marrying immediately. He said the case or one of 23 other pending state-level marriage challenges would probably head to the Supreme Court for a ruling.  

According to the report, Texas attorney general and gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott is likely to appeal the ruling. Abbott strongly opposes marriage equality, as does the other four Republicans who are running against him in the primary election. 


The ruling is stayed, pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, so same-sex couples will still be unable to marry in Texas. But Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, says the ruling is still one step closer to the "inevitable end of official discrimination by the state of Texas. Gay and lesbian couples want the same thing as other loving couples -- to stand before family and friends and declare their lifetime commitment to each other, and to enjoy the same recognition and protection for their families that only marriage can bring. We applaud the judge’s preliminary ruling, but we also recognize that there is a great deal of hard work to do to bring full equality to every Texan.”

Gov. Rick Perry, shortly after the ruling, reiterated that the constitutional amendment should be upheld because it was approved by voters.

"Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens," he said on Wednesday afternoon. "The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state."

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