A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that Texas’ ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, along with the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage from other states, according to a report today from the San Antonio Express-News.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia did issue a stay, meaning the ban remains in effect for now, following the lead of seven other states, who have also struck down parts or entire same-sex marriage bans, according to the report.
The states will keep the stay in effect until the issue reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit by two gay couples against the state to overturn the gay marriage ban, one –– Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon –– who are seeking to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized and the other –– Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss –– who want to get married in their home state of Texas.
“We are extremely happy — happy beyond words — with Judge Garcia's decision,” Phariss and Holmes said in a statement. “Today, Judge Garcia affirmed that the Equal Protection Clause applies to all Texans. We are delighted by that decision, and we expect that, if appealed, it will be upheld.”
Both Dimetman and De Leon championed the same sentiment, calling it a “great step toward 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,” Dimetman and De Leon said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when, surrounded by friends and family, we can renew our vows in our home state of Texas.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that his office plans to appeal Garcia’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, saying he hopes the court will uphold previous precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage. The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” Abbot said in a statement. “If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today's decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld.”
Abbott, however, said because of the stay there’s no urgency in appealing the ruling.
“This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides. And, as the lower court acknowledged today, it's an issue that will ultimately be resolved by a higher court,” Abbott said.
The ruling comes as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial state bill that would afford business owners the right to refuse service to gay customers on the basis of religious beliefs.