A federal judge has declared a Texas law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Although it is a significant win for rights regarding same-sex unions, the ban remains in place until a court of appeals hears the matter. Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, was named in the suit but has yet to offer comment.
The decision was handed down by Federal Judge Orlando Garcia. Ruling for the U.S. District Court in San Antonio, Texas, the New York Times said that he found no logical reason for gay couples to be denied the right to marriage. He also said that such a law was demeaning for no rightful reason. The law is an amendment to Texas’ state constitution. It was approved by voters in 2005 when the meaning of marriage was defined as a union only between a man and a woman. There were two other laws, one in 1997 and again in 2003, that were similarly intended. All three laws meant to ban same-sex marriage were declared unconstitutional.
Same-sex couples who wish to dance down the aisle will have to wait awhile, though. According to CNN, Judge Garcia has stayed any enforcement of the ruling until it is appealed and that it will be done in a New Orleans federal appeals court. This means that while the laws have been declared unconstitutional, same-sex marriage is still not allowed in the Lone Star State.
NBC News, however, reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed state attorneys that there is no obligation to defend laws in their respective states if such laws discriminate in any way that is forbidden by the Constitution.
CNN also reported that there were two same-sex couples that were responsible for the lawsuit that prompted today’s ruling. One couple is Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra de Leon, from Austin. The other couple is said to be Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, who reside in Plano.
Also named in the suit is the attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott. Abbott is a candidate for governor as well as a Republican. It is said that he is a top candidate for the slot.
The federal ruling comes in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) being ruled illegitimate in 2013 by the Supreme Court. DoMA was a federal law enacted in 1996.
With this new decision, there is sure to be a huge battle in Arizona, which presently is awaiting its governor, Jan Brewer, to sign or veto an anti-gay bill. It is said that the Arizona law would allow businesses to discriminate against gay people. Time magazine said that news of that bill has prompted companies such as Apple, Marriott Hotels and American Airlines to reconsider their interests in the state. Apple CEO Tim Cook is particularly upset, it has been announced, and he may decide against building a plant in Arizona if the bill is signed into law.
In the last few weeks, other states with same-sex marriage bans have had their laws ruled unconstitutional as well. Among them are Utah, Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
By Randall Fleming
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