Greg Abbott Hub




Texas AG Greg Abbott Files Brief Defending State's Gay Marriage Ban

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief on Monday defending the state's gay marriage ban, LoneStarQ reports:

AbbottAbbott’s office filed its initial brief Monday appealing U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s February decision, which found that Texas’ marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Abbott’s appeal was filed on the same day that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court struck down Virginia’s ban as unconstitutional, becoming the third federal appeals court to rule in favor of marriage equality. In its 42-page brief filed Monday, Abbott’s office argues that the issue should be settled by voters and state legislatures, not the courts.

The American Statesman reports on the filing, which focused on the thus-far failed conservative argument that marriage's purpose is procreation:

“By recognizing and encouraging the lifelong commitment between a man and woman — even when they do not produce offspring — the state encourages others who will procreate to enter into the marriage relationship,” Abbott said in the state’s first brief, filed late Monday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Promoting opposite-sex marriages “increases the likelihood that children will be born into stable environments where they are raised by their mother and their father,” Abbott argued.

Such family structures are good for the children’s well being and good for the state because they increase the likelihood that parents, not society, “will bear the cost of raising these children,” the brief said.

“Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” Abbott said.

LoneStarQ also notes that "Abbott’s office rejected the delivery of 5,200 petitions calling for him to stop defending Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage."

Read the brief below:

14-50196 #14288


Texas Judge Rejects State's Motion to Intervene in Gay Divorce Case

Texas State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe has rejected a motion from Attorney General Greg Abbott to intervene in a divorce and child custody case involving a gay couple. Nellermoe became the third Texas judge to declare the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional when she ruled in late April.

NellermoeThe AP reports:

The Texas Attorney General's office argued Wednesday before State District Judge Barbara Nellermoe that it has an interest in defending Texas' ban on same-sex marriages.
    
Nellermoe refused to allow the state to intervene in the case. She previously ruled Texas restrictions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
    
The San Antonio Express-News reports state attorneys have said they'll appeal the decision.


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Gay Friend Face Off in Marriage Battle

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the state's gay marriage ban (which was struck down this week) in court, has a personal connection to the case in that he went to law school with Mark Phariss (second from left), one of the plaintiffs, and considers him a friend, the AP reports:

AbbottAfter leaving Vanderbilt, Abbott was crushed by a falling tree in Houston while out jogging. He was permanently paralyzed from the waist down, and upon hearing the news, Phariss flew to the hospital and spent two days with Abbott. He bought books to help him pass the time and kept Abbott's wife and mother company. A year later, Phariss said Abbott helped line up a job offer for him.

In the 1990s, when Abbott entered politics and was elected a state judge and later a Texas Supreme Court justice, he flew to San Antonio for a campaign stop. Phariss picked him up at the airport and drove him to meetings and a fundraiser.

Phariss, now 58 and an attorney near Dallas, said he was not openly gay at Vanderbilt. He dated girls and didn't ask out men, and didn't publicly reveal he was gay until his mid-30s.

Phariss apparently never came out to Abbott:

"If I was only friends with the people I agreed with, particularly in Texas, I wouldn't have many friends," Phariss told The Associated Press.

The AP adds:

Abbott made clear at a campaign stop Friday he doesn't approve of Phariss' quest to wed his longtime partner. He also expressed no sympathy at the thought of refusing his old friend the right to marry his partner of 16 years, Victor Holmes, an Air Force veteran.

"When the constitution is upheld, we're all winners," Abbott said.

The two haven't spoken for 10 years.

 


Wendy Davis Endorses Marriage Equality, Calls on Texas AG to Stop Defending Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO

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Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator whose 11 hour filibuster of a abortion bill last summer gained her national headlines and a platform for a gubernatorial run, has come out publicly for marriage equality and has urged Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop defending the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

“It's my strong belief that when people love each other and are desirous of creating a committed relationship with each other that they should be allowed to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Davis told the Express-News editorial board.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, said she is “pleased” that the state's constitutional definition of marriage, as being between a man and a woman, is under challenge in federal court.

“I think that what we see happening at the federal level in terms of constitutional interpretations on that provide some hope that it may be found unconstitutional,” she said.

AbbottGreg Abbott, who is Davis's presumed general-election opponent in the race for governor later this year, scoffed at her request to stop defending the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Said a spokesman for the Abbott campaign:

“Unlike Senator Davis' positions on the issues, the Texas constitution is not subject to change on the latest whims of the day. Senator Davis' comment suggesting the Attorney General not enforce the Constitution mimics an Obama-style approach to government, and Texans deserve better,” 

Watch Davis' announcement and call to the Attorney General, AFTER THE JUMP...

Davis’ campaign for governor is seen as the first real test for Battleground Texas, the Political Action Committee founded by top political strategists, campaign operatives, and field directors from the Obama 2012 campaign. The PAC’s long-term goal is turning Texas into a presidential swing state, something that Republicans in the state are increasingly worried about.

Abbot, to his credit, realizes that Texas’ 38 electoral votes are “the last line of defense” in keeping Republicans electorally competitive in presidential elections. So naturally, he’s already on record saying that Battleground Texas represents a greater threat than North Korea.

Continue reading "Wendy Davis Endorses Marriage Equality, Calls on Texas AG to Stop Defending Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO" »


Challenge to Texas Gay Marriage Ban Goes Before Judge Today: VIDEOS

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A lawsuit challenging Texas' ban on gay marriage will go before a federal judge in San Antonio for the first time today, the AP reports:

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is expected to decide whether to temporarily block the law, approved by voters in 2005, until a trial can be held in the couples' case. Similar lawsuits have been filed in 22 other states, but the Texas lawsuit is the first of its kind in the region covered by the southern and deeply conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case will likely end up...

RallyThe suit was filed in November. The AP adds:

...Wednesday's hearing combines two cases, one from Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit complaining that Texas' ban unconstitutionally denies them the fundamental right to marry because of their sexual orientation. The other lawsuit was filed by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who argue that Texas officials are violating their rights and those of their 2-year-old child by not recognizing their marriage license from Massachusetts.

Lone Star Q reports:

The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. Central time at the John H. Wood, Jr. United States Courthouse in San Antonio, and activists on both sides of the issue are expected to attend. Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Colombia, and dozens of similar federal lawsuits are pending across the U.S. But the Texas case, known as De Leon v. Perry, is among the first to go to court in the Deep South.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to defend the state's ban.

Garcia is a Clinton-appointed judge. We'll see if he follows other judges who have recently ruled that banning same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Lone Star Q adds:

If Garcia grants the injunction, it’s likely his decision will be stayed and immediately appealed to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. Experts say it’s unlikely there would be any window for same-sex marriages to occur.

Watch an interview with Phariss and Holmes, and footage of a rally last night in San Antonio, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Challenge to Texas Gay Marriage Ban Goes Before Judge Today: VIDEOS" »


Texas Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Whether State Can Grant Divorce to Gay Couples: VIDEO

Back in August, we reported on two gay couples in Texas who were bringing their divorce cases all the way to the state Supreme Court in a challenge of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Both couples originally married in Massachusetts several years ago and later filed for divorce in Texas. The Dallas Morning News reports:

ScheskeTheir attorney, James Scheske [pictured right], told the all-Republican court Tuesday that Texas' gay marriage ban doesn't bar same-sex divorces because divorce is covered under a separate section of family law. Furthermore, he argued that the state can't dispute that the couple were legally married elsewhere.

"Texas can't prevent its gay and lesbian citizens from getting married" and returning home, he said. "There's no dispute my clients were married."

Several justices asked how granting a divorce could not be an official recognition of marriage. 

"Don't you have to presume there is a legal marriage (to grant a divorce)?" Justice Don Willet asked Scheske.

Check out a news report of the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Justices also brought up the broader issue of the constitutionality of Texas' gay marriage ban itself, with Willet asking Scheskie if the ban is "driven by irrational animus" against homosexuals.

Scheske argued that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional because it treats same-sex couples as "second-class" citizens. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act because it treated same-sex couples unequally.

"If we haven't learned anything from the U.S. Supreme Court cases the last 60 years, we should have learned that forcing a targeted group of citizens into a separate and unequal court procedure is never constitutional. That's what happens here." Scheske said.

AbbottBack in 2009, when one of the couples originally filed for divorce, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor next year, intervened and invoked DOMA, "which specifically protects the rights of states to refuse to recognize or give effect to marriages between persons of the same sex..."

It remains to be seen how the Texas Supreme Court will handle this legal predicament, especially considering this is one of the first serious challenges to the state's anti-gay constitutional amendment since it was implemented in 2005.  The court is not expected to issue a ruling for several months.

Continue reading "Texas Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Whether State Can Grant Divorce to Gay Couples: VIDEO" »


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