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Federal judge strikes down Texas’ anti-same sex marriage law

Wow.

RedEquality

A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deprives some citizens of due process and equal protection under the law by stigmatizing their relationships and treating them differently from opposite-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings as having trumped Texas’ moves to ban gay marriage.

“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.

It will unquestionably be appealed, and even with the so far unbroken string of victories for marriage equality these past three months I still can’t shake the feeling that the Fifth Circuit will come up with some reason to overturn this decision. That concern can wait for another day. For today, let’s celebrate this big step forward. Lone Star Q has a copy of the opinion. Here’s a statement from Freedom to Marry:

oday a federal judge in San Antonio joined judges in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia in ruling that bans on same-sex couples marrying or recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples are unconstitutional.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

“Today the 6th federal judge in a row has ruled – in Texas – that there is simply no legitimate justification for denying marriage to loving gay and lesbian couples. The court’s holding is solid and serious, and follows the language and logic of the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling last year and the Constitution’s clear command. With 47 marriage cases in 25 states now moving forward, and the possibility that a freedom to marry case will again reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue the conversations and progress — Texan to Texan, American to American — that show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.”

The Public Research Religion Institute released data today that shows increased support for the freedom to marry in the South and in Texas. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Southern millennials support the freedom to marry, and support across the South is split, with 48% in support and 48% opposed. Support has grown the fastest in the South of any region in the country, more than doubling in the last ten years. In Texas, support is split, with 48% of Texans in support and 49% opposed.

We are living in exciting times, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Here’s Chuck Smith from Equality 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.

I’ll have more after the story gets reported in the papers and the inevitable howling and gnashing of teeth by the forces of inequality begin. Until then, I say “Hell, yeah!” Burka, Texpatriate, BOR, Texas Leftist, and Hair Balls have more.

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