A federal judge on Wednesday ruled
Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
In his ruling, U.S. District Court
Judge Orlando Garcia said that the state's marriage laws demean the
dignity of gay and lesbian couples for “no legitimate reason.”
“Without a rational relation to a
legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no
refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote.
Garcia stayed his ruling pending an
Federal judges have knocked down all or
part of similar bans in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia.
“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,” Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to
Marry, said in an emailed statement. “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 conversation and
progress – Texan to Texan, American to American – that show that
all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.”
Plaintiffs in the suit are two gay
couples. Cleopatra de Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin married in
Massachusetts but a constitutional amendment approved by voters in
2005 prohibits Texas from recognizing their marriage. The law also
prevents San Antonio couple Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss from
marrying. The couple was denied a marriage license in November.
Phariss, a lawyer, and Holmes, an Air
Force veteran, have been in a relationship for 17 years.
“We love each other and, like most
straight couples who love each other, we want to get married,”
Pharris told The
Dallas Morning News.
State lawyers asked Judge Garcia to
dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Texas is “promoting the state's
interest in responsible procreation and childbearing.”