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Friday, October 28, 2016

By Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, a federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday.

U.S. Judge Orlando Garcia issued an injunction barring Texas from enforcing a law and constitutional amendment that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and ban the state from recognizing same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other states.

There will be no rush to the altar in Texas, however. Garcia stayed his ruling, delaying its implementation while Texas officials appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees courts in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate government purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, said in a 48-page order.

Garcia joins federal judges who have voided gay-marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, ruling that the prohibitions unfairly demeaned and stigmatized gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Those rulings also were stayed while appeals continue.

In narrower rulings along the same equal-protection lines, U.S. judges recently ordered Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions and forced Ohio to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages on death certificates.

Lawsuits are pending in about 20 states that ban gay marriage, including Michigan, where a federal court trial is underway over a constitutional amendment that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

In Texas, Garcia rejected arguments from state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, which argued that each state has the right to define marriage as best fits the traditions of its citizens, that traditional marriage best supports the state’s interest in promoting responsible procreation and child rearing, and that same-sex marriage is a recent innovation that cannot be seen as a fundamental right that must be protected by the courts.

The Texas ban on same-sex marriage, passed into law in 2003 and added to the Texas Constitution by 76 percent of voters in 2005, also is being challenged by two federal lawsuits in Austin that are in the early stages of litigation.

The San Antonio lawsuit was filed by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin, who want Texas to recognize their 2009 marriage in Massachusetts, and Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano, who have been together for 16 years and wish to be married in Texas.

  • howa4x

    Same sex marriage is a conundrum for the right wing who argue all the time for government to get out of their lives, but want government intervention in the most intimate of situations when it suits them. Opponents of same sex marriage often cite the bible as justification for their staunch opposition. Here again conservatives who claim to have knowledge about the constitution and the bill of rights should know we have a separation of church and state. Our founding fathers recoiled at the history of religious wars in Europe and founded our country on individual rights not religious rights. There is no legal argument the right wing can make opposing same sex marriage. Currently they are using some similar legal arguments that justified slavery and segregation. So right wing make up your mind once and for all. Should government be inside our lives, and bedrooms or not? Because inside the bedroom means inside our lives and all the regulations that come with it.

    • Lovefacts

      You’re 100% correct. Unfortunately, the religious right are not only intolerant, but don’t know history, be it American or world history. By 1985 Catholic Maryland, Calvinist Mass, and Church of England Virginia, to name only three, had forced those who weren’t members of the state religion to either convert or leave and never return upon pain of death.

      This is one of the reasons for the Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause and Article VI which states, “no Religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Although that hasn’t stopped these fanatics from wanting to pass laws stating only Christians can run for political office.

      Sadly, with most people who are not devote but rabid in their beliefs, they feel justified in forcing their view of the world on the rest of us.

      • howa4x

        True. Religion was only meant to be a guide not a dogma. Follow these simple ten commandments and you can have a civil society. It is like what the late George Carlin once said, “these people took religion and ran off the edge of the earth with it”. It amazes me that the tea party converts run around wearing 3 corner hats and wave little copies of the constitution around and don’t understand one word of it.