Judge: Texas ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional

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A federal judge has overturned Texas' anti-gay marriage measure.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled on Feb. 26 that Texas’ ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples is unconstitutional.

Garcia's ruling was made in a lawsuit brought by Cleopatra DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss who were represented by the law firm Akin Gump.

The judge wrote, "Today’s Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution."

He stayed the ruling because the state is likely to appeal his decision. That probably means that same-sex couples will not be issued marriage licenses until the appeals process is completed.

Responding to the development, Chad Griffin, president of the national Human Rights Campaign, said, "This injunction sends a powerful message that gay and lesbian Texans are being harmed every by inequality, and that these plaintiff couples who we're proud to call members of the HRC family are very likely to succeed in striking down Texas' ban on marriage equality. This is a historic day in the heart of the South, and I can't stress enough how important it is to move quickly until loving couples in all 50 states feel the full reach of this victory for equality."

Kenneth D. Upton, with Lambda Legal’s office in Dallas, celebrated on Feb. 26, saying, “The yellow rose of Texas has a distinctly rainbow hue today. That the judge in this case saw fit to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Texas state officials from enforcing the discriminatory marriage bans illustrates his belief that the state was unlikely to prevail at trial. As important, this ruling extends the impressive run of recent victories that have stretched from Utah to Virginia. The walls of exclusion continue to crumble as court after court after court recognizes that denying marriage to same-sex couples is discrimination, pure and simple."

Federal judges in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma and Kentucky also have all recently ruled against anti-gay marriage laws in the states.

After Garcia released his ruling, Evan Wolfson of the Freedom to Marry campaign, said, "Today the sixth 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."

Wolfson, a pioneer in the marriage equality fight, added, "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 American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, earlier this year, filed a lawsuit seeking marriage equality in Wisconsin. The suit was filed in federal court in Madison.