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Federal Judge Declines To Allow Gay Marriages In Texas Pending Appeal


A federal district judge on Friday declined to lift his stay of a ruling striking down Texas' same-sex marriage bans

The decision from Judge Orlando L. Garcia means same-sex marriages won't be allowed pending an appeal of the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court. 

Last month, plaintiff same-sex couples asked Garcia to lift the stay since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of decisions overturning marriage bans from other federal appeals courts. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the marriage bans, responded that lifting the stay would be "deeply offensive." 

In rejecting the motion to lift the stay, Garcia noted that the Supreme Court has never declined to impose a stay on same-sex marriages in a state where a circuit court hasn't resolved the issue. He also noted that the 5th Circuit recently granted a stay of a ruling striking down Missisippi's same-sex marriage ban: 

"Lifting the stay would not bring finality to this Fourtenth Amendment claim. To the contrary, such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubto folow. The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and dificult journey for equality is closer than ever before. Ultimately, as mentioned in the February 12, 2014 hearing, this Court believes the isue wil ultimately be resolved by the United States Supreme Court and 'a group of five people will decide this case.' Acordingly, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED."

The 5th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Texas and Mississippi cases — as well as one from Louisiana — on Jan. 9. 

Read Garcia's full order denying the motion to lift the stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Federal Judge Declines To Allow Gay Marriages In Texas Pending Appeal " »

Texas AG Greg Abbott Says Gay Marriages During Appeal Would Be 'Deeply Offensive'

Abbott.GregTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott says it would be "deeply offensive" for same-sex marriages to be allowed during his appeal of a federal district judge's ruling striking down the state's marriage bans. 

Abbott made the comments during a press conference Monday where he unveiled his agenda and staff as governor, the Associated Press reports: 

The governor-elect didn’t mention gay marriage until he was asked about the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which next month will hear a case in which a judge in February struck down Texas’ ban.

Some advocates have asked other Texas judges to begin performing gay marriages pending the appeal, but Abbott said that would be “deeply offensive” since it “would be a clear rebuke of the 5th Circuit’s jurisdiction.”

U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia stayed his decision striking down the marriage bans pending Abbott's appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court, which has set the case for oral arguments Jan. 9.

However, last month same-sex plaintiff couples asked Garcia to lift the stay pending the appeal, and last week, some county clerks in Texas said they are prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Meanwhile, the 5th Circuit stayed a decision striking down Mississippi's marriage ban, which prompted another court filing from Abbott arguing that Garcia should leave his stay in place. 

Nevertheless, WOIA reported Tuesday that Garcia is under "increasing pressure" to lift the stay. 

An appeals court is set to consider the legality of the state law that bans gay marriage one month from today, but a Federal Judge in San Antonio is under increasing pressure to take steps to allow gay marriages to take place in Texas immediately, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

I'm not sure what they mean by "increasing pressure," but experts say the 5th Circuit's decision to stay the Mississippi ruling means it would almost certainly grant a new stay in Texas if Garcia were to lift his. The only question is whether there would be a window for marriages to occur, but given that Abbott likely already has his motion for a new stay drafted, that seems unlikely. 

Still, by going around saying it would be "deeply offensive" for marriages to occur and proclaiming who has jurisdiction to perform them, Abbott may only be tempting Garcia to lift the stay.  

After all, the most "deeply offensive" things about this case are Abbott's arguments against marriage equality.  

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Fights To Keep Stay on Pro-Marriage Equality Ruling In Place

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e63970c-800wiTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott (right) implored a federal judge Tuesday not to lift his stay of a February ruling striking down the state's marriage bans. 

However, experts said they believe it's likely U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia will lift the stay. It's unclear, though, whether such a decision would allow marriages to begin immediately in the Lone Star State. 

On Monday, attorneys for two same-sex couples filed a motion asking Garcia to lift the stay, which he put in place pending the state's appeal of his decision in DeLeon v. Perry

Abbott filed his response to the motion Tuesday. 

"The judge could decide something very soon," said Neel Lane of Akin Gump in San Antonio, which is representing the same-sex couples. "I think there's a good chance he'll lift the stay." 

Ken Upton, Dallas-based senior counsel for Lambda Legal, agreed. 

"Garcia will probably grant it," said Upton, who's not involved in the case. "It's a good motion." 

Abbott's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Both Lane and Upton said if Garcia lifts the stay, it's possible he would allow time for Abbott to appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court before it takes effect. But if Garcia decides to make the decision effective immediately, same-sex couples could begin applying for marriage licenses. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e37970c-800wiTexas has a 72-hour waiting period before marriages can occur, but the waiting period can be waived by any judge. 

In asking Garcia to lift the stay, attorneys for the couples argued that the basis for it is no longer valid, since the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review rulings striking down marriages bans from four federal appeals courts. 

But in his response, Abbott argued that the plaintiffs "misread the Supreme Court tea leaves" — arguing that the high court has never stopped a state from enforcing a marriage ban before the issue was considered by an appeals court. 

In their motion, the plaintiffs' attorneys said the stay should be lifted because, for example, one of them is pregnant and if something were to happen to her before their marriage is recognized, it could affect her partner's legal rights to care for the child. But Abbott callously rejected that argument. 

"These alleged harms are speculative; they are contingent on death or incapacity of one of the parties, but the plaintiffs do not allege any threat or expectation that these potential tragedies will befall them," Abbott wrote.

If Garcia lifts the stay, Abbott could appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit, where a three-judge panel would have to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in Texas pending oral arguments in the case on Jan. 9. 

"You don't get a stay unless the court concludes there's a likelihood you'll prevail," Lane said. 

If the 5th Circuit were to impose a stay, Lane said he would consider appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

"That's several steps down the road," he said. 

Texas is one of 15 states where same-sex couples cannot marry. The Lone Star State is home to 46,401 same-sex couples, according to the Williams Institute, more than any state except California or New York. 

Also Tuesday, a federal judge struck down Mississippi's marriage ban, but stayed the decision for 14 days to allow the state to appeal to the 5th Circuit.  

Read the state of Texas' motion asking Garcia not to lift the stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Fights To Keep Stay on Pro-Marriage Equality Ruling In Place" »

Texas AG Greg Abbott Doesn't Know If He Would've Defended Bans on Interracial Marriage 50 Years Ago

AbbottIn an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott failed to give a concrete answer when asked whether he would have defended a prohibition on interracial marriage had he been in office 50 years ago. 

Abbott, who is running for governor this year, filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit earlier this month asserting that his state's ban on same-sex marriage should remain in place because it reduces out-of-wedlock births

Lone Star Q reports:

“Right now, if there was a ban on interracial marriage, that’s already been ruled unconstitutional,” Abbott told the San Antonio Express-News editorial board.  “And all I can do is deal with the issues that are before me … The job of an attorney general is to represent and defend in court the laws of their client, which is the state Legislature, unless and until a court strikes it down.”

When Express-News’ Peggy Fikac told Abbott his answer was unclear, Abbott replied:

“Actually, the reason why you’re uncertain about it is because I didn’t answer the question. And I can’t go back and answer some hypothetical question like that.”

Back in February, Abbott's Democratic opponent, state senator Wendy Davis, told the paper she supported marriage equality and called on Abbott to stop defending the unconstitutional ban on gay marriage.  

Texas AG Greg Abbott: Gay Marriage Bans Reduce Out-of-Wedlock Births

AbbottIn a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asserted the state's ban on same-sex marriage should remain in place because it reduces out-of-wedlock births.

"Texas's marriage laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas's marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society," the brief read. "Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy. At the very least, one could rationally believe that opposite-sex marriages will do more to advance the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births than same-sex marriages will."

The brief went on to state:

"Same-sex marriage may very well produce other societal benefits - such as increasing household wealth or providing a stable environment for children raised by same-sex couples - but that does not establish that Texas's marriage laws lack a rational relation to the State's interests in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births and encouraging the creation of new offspring."

On Thursday, we reported the Fifth Circuit had agreed to expedite oral arguments in the case challenging Texas's ban on same-sex marriage - with plaintiffs hopeful the case will be heard within "the next month or two."

Read Abbott's full brief below:

AT&T Responds to Criticism Over Its $75,000 Contribution to Anti-gay Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

AbbottDallas-based AT&T Inc has responded to criticism over its Texas Political Action Committee's recent $75,000 contribution to anti-gay Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott's campaign for governor this November, Lone Star Q reports.

Abbott, who is defending the state's gay marriage ban in court, filed a brief last month stating that defending the ban "increases the likelihood that children will be born into stable environments where they are raised by their mother and their father."

“The PAC supports a variety of candidates for a variety of reasons,” AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said in an email to Lone Star Q, in response to an inquiry about the contributions to Abbott. “The PAC does not comment on reasons for contributions, but publicly discloses contributions consistent with state requirements.

“Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T’s culture and operations, and we’re proud to be recognized as a leader in this area,” Richter added. “DiversityInc recently named AT&T No. 1 on its 2014 Top 10 Employers for LGBT Employees. And every year since 2004 we’ve received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for our fair treatment of our LGBTQ employees, including protection against discrimination, parity of health care benefits for domestic partners and other criteria.”

Earlier this month, Facebook Inc. came under similar fire for a $10,000 contribution to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' reelection campaign - the same man who vowed to "spend whatever it takes" to prevent same-sex couples from marrying in his state.

Last October, AT&T launched a new campaign for LGBT History Month called 'Love is Changing History' and pledged to donate up to $100,000 to the Trevor Project. 

I guess in their eyes that makes everything right?


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