Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Ban on Gay Marriage


A federal judge has struck down Texas' ban on gay marriage, relying on the Supreme Court's decision in the Edie Windsor case to do so.

TexasTwo couples are involved in the case. Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes decided to file suit after being denied a license in San Antonio in October. And Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who were married in Massachusetts, say Texas officials are violating their rights and those of their child by not recognizing their marriage. Attorney Daniel McNeel Lane represents both couples.

LoneStarQ reports:

U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia granted a preliminary injunction that would bar Texas from enforcing the bans pending trial.

However, Garcia stayed his decision pending an appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Even if he had not stayed the decision, the preliminary injunction would have applied only to the two same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit challenging the marriage bans, known as DeLeon v. Perry.

“The issue before this court is whether Texas’ current definition of marriage is permissible under the United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote in his 48-page decision. “After careful consideration, and applying the laws as it must, the Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process,” Garcia wrote. “Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage.”

Read the ruling here.

LoneStarQ adds:

In granting the preliminary injunction Garcia found the plaintiffs met a four-pronged test: They showed a likelihood of success at trial; they showed that continued enforcement of the marriage bans would cause irreparable harm; they showed that this harm outweighs any potential harm to the defendants; and they showed that an injunction would serve the public interest.

The case went before Garcia in February.

The Dallas Morning News adds:

“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. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”

But Garcia’s ruling, while a major victory for groups seeking to make marriage legal for gay and lesbian couples nationwide, will not win them Texas marriage licenses anytime soon.

Although Garcia issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s enforcing its 2003 law and 2005 constitutional amendment that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, he stayed it from taking effect until his ruling can be reviewed on appeal.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, is almost certain to appeal. Most legal experts expect Garcia’s ruling, or similar ones by federal judges in other states, to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case he ruled on was brought by two gay men from Plano who want to get married and two Austin lesbians who want Texas to recognize their out-of-state marriage. It is one of three federal lawsuits challenging the Texas ban — and the furthest along. Nationally, similar battles are underway in federal courts in 23 states.

Federal judges in Kentucky, Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma have all struck down state bans on gay marriage since the Supreme Court DOMA decision last June.

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  1. Hahahhahahahahah !

    Posted by: Xael | Feb 26, 2014 2:47:14 PM

  2. "....demean their dignity with for no legitimate reason."

    Read it and weep, religious right.
    "No legitimate reason"
    means that it does not undermine your self styled 'traditional marriage'.

    But it also implies that there may well be illegitimate reasons that you want to demean our dignity.
    I can think of one - bigotry.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 26, 2014 2:47:43 PM

  3. Wooow! If this big red state can't force same sex couples to live under a different standard then there's huge hope for all southern states.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Feb 26, 2014 2:52:50 PM

  4. excellent news!! wooohooooo....Que Ms Perkin's and Brian Brown's Outrage in 5...4..3..

    Posted by: disgusted american | Feb 26, 2014 2:53:24 PM

  5. Very good news! This Texan is happy.

    Posted by: Brian W | Feb 26, 2014 2:57:59 PM

  6. Great news. But this is going to the 5th Circuit, which is the most conservative in the Nation.

    Posted by: TheSeer | Feb 26, 2014 3:05:03 PM

  7. Wow.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Feb 26, 2014 3:10:16 PM

  8. Hopefully this speeds up their departure from the Union.

    Posted by: Craig | Feb 26, 2014 3:15:17 PM

  9. Proud to be a Texan today!

    Posted by: Håkon | Feb 26, 2014 3:16:13 PM

  10. With the 17 states and DC that already have marriage equality plus the now four states with stays, that's over 50% of the US population. Huge milestone.

    Posted by: RTHK | Feb 26, 2014 3:19:19 PM

  11. You first, Craig.

    Posted by: Håkon | Feb 26, 2014 3:20:11 PM

  12. Until this ends up in the Supreme Court, there will be states kicking and screaming to fight equal marriage rights. But the more lower court decisions that come along to affirm gay marriage, the more certain it is that the Supreme Court will go along.

    The Supreme Court has been afraid to be too far ahead of popular opinion. Justice Ginsburg feels that Roe v. Wade created the strong "pro-life" movement. She doesn't want the recognition of gay marriage to create a backlash.

    For many reasons, time is on our side. In reality, the battle is over. We won, although it may take another few years before we can savor the complete victory.

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Feb 26, 2014 3:23:37 PM

  13. The LoneStarQ report is a bit incorrect in saying that the ruling applies only to the2 couples who sued. In footnote 7 of his opinion, Judge Garcia made it clear that his opinion applies generally to all same-sex couples who want to marry in Texas or who were married elsewhere but want their marriage recognized in Texas.

    It's correct that the decision was "stayed" -- meaning until the federal court of appeals issues a ruling (many months from now), Texas same-sex couples will still not be allowed to get married(or be recognized as married).

    Posted by: MiddleoftheRoader | Feb 26, 2014 3:30:18 PM

  14. Great news for Marriage Equality and progress!

    Posted by: NotSafeForWork | Feb 26, 2014 3:33:10 PM

  15. They've long threatened to secede from the rest of the country so maybe this will help. They get far more from the federal government back than they pay into it in taxes, something they don't seem to realize. When they're on their own they will. The only good part of Texas is Austin.

    Posted by: JD | Feb 26, 2014 3:33:40 PM

  16. wow. i guess all these judges--oklahoma, utah, ohio, texas, virginia--are all activists. i guess activist judges are the norm. who'd of thought?

    Posted by: woody | Feb 26, 2014 3:34:32 PM

  17. Lets finish this at SCOTUS.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 26, 2014 3:37:42 PM

  18. Given that sparkling personality, JD, I think it's safe to say that none of the marriage equality posts will be relevant to you.

    Posted by: Sergio | Feb 26, 2014 3:39:55 PM

  19. This is huge!

    Posted by: reality | Feb 26, 2014 3:41:27 PM

  20. Time is on our side, but we're one retirement and Republican-presidential elect away from major issues. Which is why we need SCOTUS to rule on this as soon as possible. Preferably next year, but most believe it will be 2017 at the earliest. State bans are going down; marriage equality advocates have done a great job targeting judges favorable to equality. The process is working but it all really comes down to what SCOTUS does and when.

    Will be interesting, as well, to see what Circuit Courts do. 5th Circuit, 6th, 4th, are conservative Courts. What happens in these Circuits could prove very telling as to what would happen at SCOTUS.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 26, 2014 3:43:42 PM

  21. "A federal judge has struck down Texas' ban on gay marriage"

    Isn't this is waaay overstating what happened? The actual story seems to be that the couples suing to overturn the ban asked the court to suspend the ban just for them while their main case is pending. This ruling only applies to them, and it's not a final ruling on the ban. That case still has to make its way through the district court.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 26, 2014 3:46:32 PM

  22. I remember reading a while back that this texas case might hurt us as it will head to the 5th circuit in NOLA, which is supposed to be pretty conservative--meaning it could render negative ruling while the other circuit courts reviewing the other cases render rulings in our favor. That would reveal a split to the supreme court, which could hurt us as there wouldn't be unanimity in the rung just below the supremes. At least, that was the logic.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 26, 2014 3:47:00 PM

  23. Dallas has the biggest hair, and it will also have the biggest gay weddings.

    Posted by: keating | Feb 26, 2014 3:58:07 PM

  24. JJ, although the ruling was technically on a preliminary injunction, it was a ruling on the law in all but the name. The ruling goes through the full analysis of the law in order to determine whether Plaintiffs' had a likelihood of success (which is required to get a preliminary injunction). There's no doubt how this judge would rule on the case itself. So it's just as significant.

    And no, the injunction is against the law and the officials who uphold it, so it would apply to everyone in the state.

    Posted by: John | Feb 26, 2014 4:03:37 PM

  25. "Accordingly, this Court finds Plaintiffs have carried their burden of establishing they would suffer irreparable injury if Section 32 continues to be enforced by Defendants.... However...the Court intends to stay execution of this order pending appeal to prevent any legal and practical complications."

    Way to put the hammer down, Judge!

    Posted by: TKinSC | Feb 26, 2014 4:22:37 PM

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