By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com February 28 2014 1:48 PM ET
The attorney general of Texas has vowed to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The office of Greg Abbott is working on drafting an appeal of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s recent decision, reports the Associated Press. Garcia determined Wednesday that the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on marriage last summer trump Texas's state constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2005.
Garcia stayed his ruling from taking effect so that Abbott could bring his case to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal judge said this case or one of 23 other pending state-level marriage challenges would probably head to the Supreme Court for a ruling.
After Garcia’s ruling, Abbott, a Republican who is a likely candidate to succeed Rick Perry as the governor of Texas, said, "There are good, well-meaning people on both sides" of this issue, but he would defend a state’s right to determine its own marriage laws. This right was also recognized in the June 2013 decision by the Supreme Court to overturn key sections of DOMA, which both sides of the debate have been citing.
"I think it's pretty clear to see there may be multiple rulings by multiple circuits that will force this issue back to the Supreme Court," Abbott said. "We all think this is an issue that will be decided by the Supreme Court."
When Abbott referenced “good, well-meaning people,” he may have been alluding to one of the gay plaintiffs in the case — Mark Phariss, who, along with his partner of 16 years, Victor Holmes, is suing to overturn the same-sex marriage ban.
Phariss told local news station KERA that he has known Abbott since they attended law school together at Vanderbilt University. Speaking about their relationship, Phariss recalled an incident in 1984 where he flew from Oklahoma to Houston in order to be by his old friend’s hospital bed after a tree fell on Abbott and injured his spine.
“I was clerking in a law firm in Tulsa and I flew down to be by his side with his wife and his mother,” Phariss said. “He was a very good friend then, and I consider him a very good friend now.”