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Same sex marriage will have to wait for the Fifth Circuit

Bummer.

RedEquality

A federal judge has refused to permit immediate same-sex marriages in Texas, saying he expects they will be allowed some day but he doesn’t want to act precipitously.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia on Friday rebuffed a request by same-sex couples Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin that he allow gay marriages to begin taking place immediately.

Although Garcia last February ruled that Texas’ gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, he held his ruling in abeyance so higher-ranking federal jurists could rule in similar cases from other states that were further along.

On Friday, he noted that the Texas plaintiffs will square off against the office of state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending Texas’ ban, at a hearing before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Garcia also emphasized that members of the New Orleans appellate court recently declined to let gay marriages begin in Mississippi, despite a similar ruling by a trial court judge there that a state ban is unconstitutional. Garcia noted the appellate judges in that case said a full examination of the dispute “is warranted before a disruption of a long standing status quo.”

Quoting the circuit judges, Garcia said avoiding confusion is important. He repeated his Feb. 26 prediction that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will decide the issue.

As for lifting his own stay, Garcia wrote that “such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubt to follow. The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and difficult journey for equality is closer than ever before.”

See here and here for the background. Clearly, Judge Garcia thinks that the Fifth Circuit would reimpose the stay on appeal, and I daresay he suspects they may reverse his original ruling. Otherwise, there’d be little to fear of disruption. Disappointing as this is, it’s hard to argue with that logic. We’ll have a better idea of what the Fifth Circuit will do soon enough. The Trib has more.

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