The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in
New Orleans on Friday will hear appeals in cases challenging gay
marriage bans in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia
struck down Texas' ban in February; U.S. District Judge Carlton W.
Reeves declared Mississippi's ban unconstitutional in November; and
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana's ban in August.
Plaintiffs in the Texas case are a
lesbian couple who want the state to recognize their Massachusetts
marriage and a male gay couple who wish to marry in Texas.
Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of San
Antonio (pictured) have been together for 17 years. The couple was
denied a marriage license in 2013.
Plaintiffs challenging Louisiana's ban
have also asked the Supreme Court to review the case, even before the
Fifth Circuit has issued a ruling.
Two gay couples and the Campaign for
Southern Equality are plaintiffs in the case challenging
Lead counsel Roberta Kaplan also
represented Edie Windsor in the landmark case that toppled a key
provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Last week, the Fifth Circuit announced
the 3-judge panel which will hear all three cases. Two judges,
Patrick Higginbotham and Jerry Smith, were appointed to the bench by
President Ronald Reagan, while James Graves Jr. was appointed by
President Barack Obama. Many analysts believe Smith, an extremely
conservative judge, will uphold the bans.