On October 3, a few weeks after celebrating their 16th anniversary as a couple, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano walked into the Bexar County Clerk's Office to apply for a marriage license. Their request was was denied, as they knew it would be. Same-sex marriage is still banned under the Texas Constitution.
Though Holmes and Phariss failed to obtain a marriage license, they succeeded in gathering ammunition for a federal lawsuit they filed on Monday in federal court seeking to lift the ban.
"Any person has the legal right to marry another person of the opposite sex, but that right is denied to those citizens who wish to marry another person of the same sex," the complaint says. "This unequal treatment of gay and lesbian citizens is based on longstanding prejudices, and it is repugnant to the United States Constitution."
The court filing proceeds to give a thumbnail sketch of Holmes and Phariss' relationship, as well as that of Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, a lesbian couple from San Antonio who are co-plaintiffs in the suit.
Holmes was in the Air Force and stationed in San Antonio when he met Phariss, an attorney, in 1997. They moved in together after dating for several months but were forced to live apart when Holmes was stationed in San Diego for training to be a physician's assistant.
They continued their relationship long-distance for the next 11 years, only reuniting under the same roof when Holmes retired from the Air Force in 2010. Soon after, they decided to get married.
De Leon was also in Air Force, though her four years of active duty were over by the time she met Dimetman in 2001. They lived together and supported each other while De Leon completed grad school and while Dimetman finished law school. They married in Massachusetts in 2009 and De Leon gave birth to a child three years later, but they are denied the federal and state benefits that accrue to married couples because Texas won't recognize their union.
The couples are asking the court to remedy this by overturning the Texas Constitution's gay marriage ban and similar provisions in the Texas Family Code as unconstitutional.
(h/t Dallas Voice)
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