Two gay couples challenging Texas' ban on gay marriage have asked a federal judge to allow same-sex couples in the state to begin marrying immediately.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas' ban as unconstitutional in February. He stayed his ruling pending an appeal from the state.

Texas Attorney General and Governor-elect Greg Abbott appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which has scheduled oral arguments for January 9.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs urged Garcia to lift the stay, arguing that actions taken by the U.S. Supreme Court have “radically and permanently” changed “the constitutional environment in which the Court initially entered the stay.”

“The Court should immediately lift the stay because the Supreme Court's actions following entry of the stay no longer support its continuance,” the lawyers wrote in its filing. “The Supreme Court denied certiorari in appeals from the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits' decisions that state laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The denial of certiorari dissolved the stays in place over those cases. Since then, the Supreme Court denied requests for stays (or actually lifted stays) in other cases. While these cert denials concededly do not have legal significance, the constitutional environment in which the Court initially entered the stay have now changed radically and permanently. Fully two-thirds of citizens of the United States now have an enforceable federal constitutional right to marry the person of their choice, irrespective of gender.”

(Brief provided by Equality Case Files.)