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Texas judge rules in favor of gay marriage - overturns 2005 law

Legislating from the bench over popular votes?
Legislating from the bench over popular votes?
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Texas, one of the nation’s most conservative states is changing quickly.

On Wednesday, a U.S. federal judge declared a stay on same-sex marriage ruling it unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled the law excludes the two couples who brought the suit declaring their constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Garcia wrote in his summary, "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.”

It does not mean an end to the ruling, but rather deference to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judge said.

The lead attorney for the gay couples, Neel Lane declared the judgment an "historic day. There have been 19 decisions since last summer, and all of the rulings have come down in favor of plaintiffs challenging same-sex restrictions as unconstitutional."

Much like the vote in California on a proposition banning gay marriage a few years back, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005.

It is being called legislating from the bench by many of the opponents.

Accordingly, Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney now the Republican front-runner in the gubernatorial race this year and the voice of the defense, argued the state has the right to establish its own marriage policies.

The decision will be appealed. Abbott said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that States have the authority to define and regulate marriage. If the Fifth Circuit honors those precedents, then today's decision should be overturned and the Texas Constitution will be upheld."

Wide support for gay marriage has increased in the last few years since Massachusetts ruled gay marriage legal. Clearly half of Americans now support the idea, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

To date, 17 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marriage, including eight states where it became legal in 2013.

The times they are a changing.

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