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Federal judge strikes down Texas ban on same-sex marriage

Ruling is stayed pending appeal
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Texas

Updated: 4:30 p.m. CST

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge declared a same-sex marriage ban in deeply conservative Texas unconstitutional on Wednesday, but will allow the nation’s second-most populous state to enforce the law pending an appeal that will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. His ruling is the latest in a tangled web of lawsuits across the country expected to end up in the Supreme Court next year.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”

Garcia said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would not enforce his ruling pending one by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which already is hearing two other states’ cases. He also will give Texas time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Garcia, appointed by President Bill Clinton, is the first judge in the conservative 5th Circuit to reach such a decision. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who also is the leading Republican candidate to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, promised to appeal the decision to the New Orleans court.

“This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides,” Abbott said in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for gay rights activists following similar decisions in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court put the Utah ruling on hold until the 10th Circuit can consider an appeal, and Garcia said he would respect that order as well.

Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes filed their federal civil rights lawsuit saying Texas’ ban unconstitutionally denied them the fundamental right to marry because of their sexual orientation. Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman filed a lawsuit saying Texas officials violated their rights by not recognizing their marriage conducted in a state where gay marriage is legal.

“Having been together almost 17 years, we look forward to the day when we can get married and when all gay Texans enjoy equal rights to marry as well,” Phariss and Holmes said in a statement.

Dimetman and De Leon said they hope to retake their vows in Texas.

Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor who drafted the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, denounced the court’s decision.

“I am disappointed that judicial activism is once again trying to trump the will of the people. This ruling is the poster child of the culture war occurring in America today,” he said.

Another gay couple has filed a separate lawsuit in federal court in Austin. In that case, two men argue that the ban discriminates against them based on their gender. That case is scheduled for a hearing later this year.

The full ruling is here.

Follow the case: De Leon v. Perry.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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Filed under: Texas, [ Editor's Picks ], [ Trending ]

132 more reader comments:

  1. Hell Ya!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:36pm
  2. hahahaah yes

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:36pm
  3. Yay Texas! Now: Arizona? Uganda? Russia?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:37pm
  4. Australia?

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:49pm
  5. One would think AUS, but there are more crazies per capita there than in the US.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:03pm
  6. WOO HOO!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:37pm
  7. YES

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:37pm
  8. Wow

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  9. Alas it’s stayed pending appeal like they’ll all have to be :/ but yay for correct constitutional interpretation :3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  10. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  11. Whaaaaaaaat?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  12. HEELLLLL YYAAAAA!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  13. Awesome!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  14. No way! Cool!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  15. the dominoes continue to fall…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:38pm
  16. how about georgia

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:05pm
  17. Yeah, how about Georgia...

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:34pm
  18. Wow…yayyyy

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  19. Yeehaw!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  20. Landon Scider

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  21. Like dominoes!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  22. Teresa Dalton

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  23. The first positive political thing from Texas in awhile, that I’ve heard.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  24. Republicans in TX are clutching their pearls. Male and female Lol

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  25. Moving Forward!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:39pm
  26. AWESOME!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  27. I’m gonna win a bet with some peeps in “Texass”. They said their home state would be the last domino to fall forward in the interest of equality. =D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  28. Oh my beautiful dominoes are falling…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  29. YaaaaaHooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  30. WOOT WOOT

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:40pm
  31. Another one bites the dust,

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:41pm
  32. At last first victory

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:41pm
  33. I never thought I’d see this day…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:41pm
  34. John Becker / John M. Becker

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:42pm
  35. This is why I had this dream this morning: Two males in the same bed waking up together, smiling and one kissed the other.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:42pm
  36. Wow! I really never saw that coming! Yay Texas!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:42pm
  37. Never thought we would be next!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:42pm
  38. Wooohooo,,, hell yeeeeah!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:42pm
  39. did anyone file a case against Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arizona???

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:43pm
  40. YEE HAWW!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:43pm
  41. Yea Texas!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:43pm
  42. betcha this twisted the pickle up Perry’s ass. WTG Texas.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:43pm
  43. are u guys getting the picture? iTS over

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:43pm
  44. The queers in Texas are loud and proud! (clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas! This makes me one proud GAY Texan! Here’s to my Home State. Give me a reason to come back home!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:44pm
  45. Hope this will spread in th whole world and they’ll quit the hate :D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:44pm
  46. Love it! The walls are slowly crumbling in the south!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  47. These white folk are more desi than the ones from India!!
    Except it idiots!! There is nothing wrong in marrying the person you want to spend your life with

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  48. YEY TEXAS!!! Awesome. Now how about Florida being next

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  49. Shame on you texas

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  50. Shame on you for saying that.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  51. Oops I spelt accept wrong

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  52. Yea!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  53. Just waiting for this to reach the SCOTUS and marriage equality to be in all 50 states. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  54. Never thought this would happen in TX … YAY ! !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:45pm
  55. One more very big victory! Notwithstanding stays and appeals, equality will win over bigotry. It’s only a matter of time — and not a very long time.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:46pm
  56. Come on Arkansas Missouri Mississippi Louisiana. ..!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:46pm
  57. Kym Riley

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:46pm
  58. HELL HAS FROZEN OVER

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:46pm
  59. No fucking way!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  60. So happy the judge ruled in the favot of the gay population

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  61. It’s so pathetic that a person is judged for their sexual orientation and preference.
    It has nothing to do with the person themselves. Everyone in my eyes are human beings and deserve equal respect

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  62. Yayyyy… Let’s get it!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  63. Yay!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  64. Yeah!!!! Show those Texicans what Freedom is.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:47pm
  65. Love it

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  66. I smell freedom.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  67. Say what????? Holly Mary mother of god! I cannot believe this!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  68. Ga come on……..i think we will be last

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  69. Yay!!!!!!!!!!! <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  70. Brittney Dayshell Moreno YAY!!!!!:3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  71. THIS IS MY HOME STATE YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY THIS MAKES ME.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  72. This is fantastic!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:48pm
  73. Wow! Great job, Texans!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:49pm
  74. ARIZONA? ?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:49pm
  75. Ruthann Oliver: Twisted the pickle and broke it off! Hopefully Abbot will screw this up too and put the nail in the coffin of his run for Governor.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:49pm
  76. Yeah!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:50pm
  77. I can’t believe it.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:50pm
  78. They Need To Get Out Of Office They Are Not GOD And Have No Right To Ban Love .Love Is Love And Hate Its Hate …

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:50pm
  79. If only more ppl had the same attitude as Kiran Khare :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:50pm
  80. If Texas gt it done, I am sure Florida can do it too…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:51pm
  81. #letsgotexas <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:52pm
  82. COME ON PENNSYLVANIA!! Texas?? We are in the North!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:52pm
  83. Oh so proud of my state today!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:52pm
  84. Amazing! Absolutely unbelievable.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:52pm
  85. Michigan is working on it

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:53pm
  86. I find it disturbing that what should be a state matter is being legislated by activist judges. I don’t know about the other posters here, but I would much rather see a nation where people are tired of the government legislating their private lives and overturn these bans through voting in new legislators or passing referendums. Just like with Roe v. Wade, this was not the business of the courts to decide.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:54pm
  87. Now to make it available here

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:54pm
  88. Don’t stop believing!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:54pm
  89. Super Chingon.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:54pm
  90. Damn proud of my state today!! YAYYY for us gay Texans!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:54pm
  91. Waiting for Florida !!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:58pm
  92. Gay nation for life yay texas

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:59pm
  93. Anthony Shawn Curtis Not sure if you already heard or not

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:01pm
  94. Yeah, I think I just came across this. o:

    Replied on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:11pm
  95. Wow, never thought I’d see Texas surpass Arizona in coolness!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:01pm
  96. Take that, you Stetson-wearing asshole legislators!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:01pm
  97. Hallelujah

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:02pm
  98. Jesus Reyes go get married mijo

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:02pm
  99. Step by step!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:03pm
  100. Yay! Love it!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:03pm
  101. File that under: Things I didn’t think I’d read until I was 50

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:03pm
  102. Come on Texas!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:04pm
  103. and Oklahoma!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:05pm
  104. After years why?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:06pm
  105. YeeeeeeeeeeeHaaaaaaaaaaaaw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:06pm
  106. the devil is picking out coats to wear and Texans are going to be spitting mad. They will probably start buying more guns and amo trying to defend against the gays.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:07pm
  107. finally! Good job Texas!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:10pm
  108. Lmao!! This is amazing!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:10pm
  109. AWESOME

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:11pm
  110. Why? How? so these seperate states think they can go against the Unuted States Contituyion and ban gay marriage? We shall rule this country, one state after another and legally

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:13pm
  111. Congratulations Texas!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:15pm
  112. Amy Crain

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:17pm
  113. what? oh my gosh, the end of the world is coming ajajjajajajaja

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:17pm
  114. Dannie Price

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:19pm
  115. that was very unexpected!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:20pm
  116. Congrats Texas welcome

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:20pm
  117. Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:20pm
  118. HA HA HA !! AINT NO STOPPIN US NOW!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:21pm
  119. Texas nation

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:23pm
  120. Watching for Ted’s head to blow up!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:24pm
  121. Texas! No stopping the tide of equality.

    Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
    Ezekiel 16:49

    Southern change
    gonna come at last
    Now your crosses
    are burning fast
    Southern man

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:24pm
  122. Kristen Young

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:25pm
  123. go texas go Ignorance is horrible

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:26pm
  124. These news are so Amazing!!!!* :-) yay!!! Great

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:26pm
  125. Good

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:28pm
  126. crossed fingers

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:31pm
  127. Georgia?????k

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:34pm
  128. Damn now half texas will start getting married!!! Happy for all of you it was a bout time!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:34pm
  129. Yeah for Texas one by one we are going to win them all.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:35pm
  130. I would’ve never thought something like this would actually happen in Texas.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:35pm
  131. An awesome beginning for marriage equality in the south

    Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8:36pm