AUSTIN — Two same-sex couples have asked a federal judge in San Antonio to allow gay marriages to begin taking place immediately in Texas.
On Monday, couples Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano and Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon asked U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia to lift a stay he imposed in February on his own ruling that Texas’ gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
In February, Garcia said the state’s prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. The district judge held his ruling in abeyance so higher courts could decide similar cases from other states that were further along.
“The court should immediately lift the stay because the Supreme Court’s actions following entry of the stay no longer support its continuance,” Neel Lane, the two couples’ lawyer, wrote in his motion filed Monday.
Lane pointed out that last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear various states’ appeals that it rescue their gay-marriage bans from adverse lower court rulings. The Supreme Court’s refusal put into effect edicts overturning prohibitions on same-sex marriage in states in the three appeals court circuits. Since then, the Supreme Court lifted stays on similar lower court rulings in Kansas and South Carolina, Lane noted.
While Lane conceded that the justices’ refusals to hear appeals “do not have legal significance,” he argued that “the constitutional environment” in which Garcia acted last winter has “now changed radically and permanently. Fully two-thirds of citizens of the United States now have an enforceable federal constitutional right to marry the person of their choice, irrespective of gender.”
Texas’ ban continues to harm gay couples, forcing them to incur extra legal expenses to adopt children and transfer powers over medical decisions, Lane said. Also, in many cases, gays and lesbians cannot confer survivor benefits on their partners, he said.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed Garcia’s ruling. Abbott, who takes office as….more here.