Breaking: Federal Judge Rules Texas Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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Big news: United States District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio has granted a motion for preliminary injunction preventing the State of Texas from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage.

However, Judge Garcia issued an immediate stay of his own order, meaning that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Texas while this case is appealed.

This is still a tremendous leap forward for marriage equality in Texas and another sign of the weakness of the arguments used to create a second class of citizens based on whom they love.

Update 2:04 p.m. The Statesman has the order posted HERE.  

    Texas Marriage Restrictions Unconstitutional; Judge Garcia Grants Injunction Preventing Enforcement

    San Antonio, Texas (February 26, 2014) – United States District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio has granted a motion for preliminary injunction preventing the State of Texas from further enforcement of restrictions in the Texas Family Code and the Texas Constitution that have prevented same-sex couples from marrying in Texas. Judge Garcia ruled that the state's current restrictions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and are therefore unenforceable.

    Judge Garcia issued an immediate stay of his own order, meaning that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Texas while this case is appealed.

    The case will likely make its way to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. The Fifth Circuit is generally viewed as a court that is less likely to sustain this favorable ruling than the Tenth Circuit in Denver which will hear appeals of similar rulings from Utah and Oklahoma, or the Fourth Circuit in Richmond which will hear Virginia's appeal.

    One, or more, of these cases may reach the United States Supreme Court in 2015 for the ultimate 50-state decision on the freedom to marry in the United States.

    Vic Holmes and Mark PharissThis lawsuit was brought by Cleopatra DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss. Cleo and Nicole have been a couple since 2001 and were married in Massachusetts in 2009. They are parents to their young son. Vic and Mark have been together more than 16 years, including 11 years in a long-distance relationship while Vic served in the U.S Air Force. Vic retired from the Air Force as a Major after 23 years of service. Mark and Vic want to marry one another in Texas.

    “Today's ruling by Judge Garcia is a huge victory that moves Texas one step closer to the freedom to marry”, said Equality Texas executive director Chuck Smith. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor made it clear that animus or moral disapproval is not an acceptable justification for denying any American their constitutional right to equal protection of the law. We are gratified to see Judge Garcia uphold the Constitution of the United States and declare that Texas' restrictions on the freedom to marry are unconstitutional and unenforceable. We anxiously await the day when the United States Supreme Court will reach the same conclusion.”

    This case will proceed on appeal. And Equality Texas will continue to work to increase public support in Texas for the freedom to marry. Follow this case and other pending legal cases in Texas at WhyMarriageMattersTX.org

    Meanwhile, Texas is still a state where it is legal to fire or refuse to hire someone solely because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Texas is still a state where adopted children who have two moms or two dads cannot obtain an accurate birth certificate. Texas is still a state without standardized procedures to correct gender markers on identity documents. And Texas is still a state that keeps a statute declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court over a decade ago in Lawrence v. Texas on the books.

    While today's ruling is momentous, there remains much work to be done. Equality Texas is building a state of equality in Texas.

Update 2:04 p.m. The Statesman has the order posted HERE.  

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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