Constitutional Law

Federal judge in Texas strikes state's ban on same-sex marriage

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A federal judge in Texas has struck down the state’s constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage, agreeing with the plaintiffs that the ban violates their right to equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” wrote U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in his Wednesday opinion (PDF). “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.”

After granting the two plaintiff couples the injunctive relief they sought, however, Garcia stayed his order pending an expected appeal of his ruling by the state, the Washington Post (sub. req.) reports.

The plaintiffs in the San Antonio case include one same-sex couple seeking to be married in Texas and another same-sex couple seeking to have their previous Massachusetts marriage recognized by the state.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running as a Republican for state governor, said Texas will appeal.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that states have the authority to define and regulate marriage,” he said in a written statement provided to the Dallas Morning News. “The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman. If the 5th [U.S.] Circuit [Court of Appeals] honors those precedents, then today’s decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld.”

The Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times (reg. req.) and USA Today also have stories.

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