A man who challenged Texas' constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples said Tuesday that he's running for the state Senate as a Democrat.

Mark Phariss told The Dallas Morning News that he was inspired to run by recent Democratic wins in Virginia and Alabama, both considered Republican strongholds.

“When I was accepting the fact that I was gay, there were two things I kind of thought I had to give up: one, getting married, and two, running for political office," Phariss said Tuesday. "I need to quit assuming what people will think. I need to allow them the choice."

Phariss, a Plano-based lawyer, and Victor Holmes, an Air Force veteran, were among the two gay couples who sued Texas after the state refused to issue them a marriage license. They won at the district court level but the decision was stayed as the state appealed. The case was resolved two years later when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry.

Phariss will face engineer Brian Chaput in the March 6 Democratic primary.

If elected, Phariss would become the state's first openly gay state senator.