From San Antonio.
A federal lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of gay couples challenges the state’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and seeks to bar Texas officials from enforcing it.
“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. And should they become married in a state that has established marriage equality, Texas explicitly voids their marriage,” the lawsuit states. “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.”
Filed in San Antonio, the suit names as plaintiffs two same-sex couples: Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes of Plano and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin.
But it makes clear the litigation is pursuing rights for a larger group of people in similar situations.
In 2001, Dimetman was running her own business and De Leon was working as a statistical analyst while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.
In 2009, they traveled to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage had been allowed for five years, to make their union legal.
“We knew we were going to start a family soon,” said Dimetman, 37, now an attorney. “When you’re bringing a kid into the world, you want to be able to say you’re as married as you can be.”
Last year, De Leon, 38, gave birth to the couple’s son. Dimetman had to go through the process of adopting him.
“If our marriage was recognized in Texas, just by virtue of the fact that he was born within our marriage, he would be both of (ours) legally,” she said. The adoption, she said, “was an extreme invasion of our privacy, for no good reason.”
The couple decided to join in as plaintiffs in the lawsuit “because it’s important for our family to be treated equally under the law.”
Unlike the first lawsuit, which according to the Observer has since been withdrawn, this one involves a gold-plated law firm in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, has the enthusiastic backing of Equality Texas, and makes a clear legal claim of harm done to the plaintiffs. And we still haven’t tackled the issues of military benefits or divorce proceedings. I wonder if the state will have a more coherent legal strategy when it defends itself in this one.