U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in San Antonio on Wednesday that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a first-of-its-kind ruling in the conservative 5th Circuit. Garcia writes:
This Court holds that Texas' prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Texas' current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.
"No offense, Texas," he added:
Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent... Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.
The ruling won't take effect until it is reviewed and appealed, which means that same-sex Texans won't be allowed to get married in the state just yet. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has maintained a record of opposing gay marriage, is expected to appeal the decision. The case is expected to reach the Supreme Court before any tangible changes are made, especially considering deep opposition to legalizing gay marriage on the part of local lawmakers. The Dallas Morning News reports:
Abbott strongly opposes legalizing gay marriage, as do four of his fellow Republicans in next week’s GOP primary for lieutenant governor. So do three GOP candidates in the race to succeed Abbott as attorney general. It’s been 20 years since a Democrat won a statewide race. The GOP controls the Legislature. In November’s elections, it’s expected to easily retain control. Arguing the case before Garcia, Mike Murphy, an assistant solicitor general in Abbott’s office, said the four plaintiffs were trying to “rewrite over 150 years of Texas law” by asking courts to intervene in the democratic process.
Garcia made his decision in reviewing a case brought by two Plano men who want to get married, and two Austin women who are seeking recognition by the state of their marriage. Two other federal lawsuits challenge the state ban.
Recently Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia courts have ruled similarly, marking a wave of triumphant court decisions for the pro-LGBT community. Twenty-two other states are also reviewing cases challenging gay marriage bans. Same-sex marriage is already legal in 17 states.
View the full text of Garcia's decision below: