Same-Sex Couples Sue to Strike Down Texas Marriage Ban

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com October 29 2013 12:00 PM ET

Two same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit Monday aiming to strike down Texas's constitutional prohibition on marriage equality, seeking an injunction to stop state officials from enforcing the ban, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

While the suit seeks to establish the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in Texas, it specifically names Marc Pharris and Vic Holmes and and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman as the plaintiffs challenging the law. De Leon and Dimetman married in Massachusetts in 2009, but the state of Texas does not recognize their marriage, even though the federal government does after this summer's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. 

"In Texas, Plaintiffs cannot legally marry their partner before family, friends, and society — a right enjoyed by citizens who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex," reads the suit, filed in San Antonio by attorney Barry Chasnoff of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, according to the Express-News. "And should they become married in a state that has established marriage equality, Texas explicitly voids their marriage. There is no rational basis, much less a compelling government purpose, for Texas to deny plaintiffs the same right to marry enjoyed by the majority of society."

Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage, with more than 76 percent in support, in 2005. Texas statute also prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside the state, essentially invalidating the legal relationship of any married gay and lesbian couple as soon as they enter the state. 

A spokeswoman for Texas governor Rick Perry, who supported the 2005 constitutional amendment, told the Express-News that "the governor agrees with the majority of Texans, who voted to define marriage in the Texas Constitution as between one man and one woman." 

The suit was filed in federal district court in San Antonio Monday and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing regarding the case or its request for an injunction stopping the enforcement of the ban.