It'll still be a while before gay couples are allowed to legally allowed to marry in Texas, but they took a big step today when a federal court ruled that the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Orlando wrote in an opinion on Wednesday that the constitutional amendment voters passed in 2005 "den[ies] homosexual couples the right to marry, and, in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason." This violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution, the judge ruled.
Garcia granted a preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing the law, but he also issued a stay, meaning no gay marriages until the case works its way through appeals courts.
Plaintiffs Vic Holmes and Mark Pharris of Plano and Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon of Austin were triumphant.
"We are extremely happy -- happy beyond words -- with Judge Garcia's decision," Holmes and Pharris said in a statement. "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."
Dimetman and De Leon called it a "great step towards justice for our family."
"Ultimately, the repeal of Texas' ban will mean that our son will never know how this denial of equal protections demeaned our family and belittled his parents' relationship," they said. "We look forward to the day when, surrounded by friends and family, we can renew our vows in our home state of Texas."
Expect Greg Abbott's appeal to reach the 5th Circuit in 3 ... 2 ...
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Update at 2:53 p.m.: Governor Rick Perry sends word that, yes, Texas will be appealing.
Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn't be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state.