Austin, TX, United States (4E) – A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a 2003 Texas law banning same-sex marriage and the state’s 2005 constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman violate the U.S. Constitution.
“Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason,” said U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in arguing that the Texas laws do not comply with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
Garcia clarified that his ruling does not defy the people and legislature of Texas.
Garcia ordered the state not to enforce the laws, but stayed the order until higher courts hear appeals against his ruling.
The ruling was in response to lawsuits filed by a married lesbian couple from Austin and two Plano gay men who wanted to get married. In one of the suits, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who have a young son, wanted Texas to recognize their marriage in Massachusetts in 2009. In the other suit, lawyer Mark Phariss and physician assistant Victor Holmes, who are partners for 16 years, are the plaintiffs.
Both couples were glad of Garcia’s ruling.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry said the state will appeal Garcia’s ruling insisting that Texans have the right to determine state laws.
“It is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens,” Perry said in a statement.
Garcia follows the decisions of federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia to strike down those state’s same-sex marriage bans. Same-sex marriages are allowed in 17 states and the District of Columbia.