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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 09
Federal judge strikes Texas ban on same-sex marriage
Section One
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Federal judge strikes Texas ban on same-sex marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A federal judge ruled on February 26 that the Texas law banning Gay and Lesbian marriages is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said in his ruling that the Texas law did not pass even 'rational basis review,' the lowest standard of judicial scrutiny.

'Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,' Garcia wrote.

'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.'

Consequently, Garcia said, the Texas law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

'One of the court's main responsibilities is to ensure that individuals are treated equally under the law,' he wrote in his decision. 'Equal treatment of all individuals under the law is not merely an aspiration it is a constitutional mandate.'

Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down state sodomy laws, and Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts decision establishing same-sex marriage in that state, led to a decisive shift in legal opinion on LGBT rights, Garcia said.

Now, he continued, LGBT rights are enshrined in Supreme Court precedent.

'Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from passing legislation born out of animosity against homosexuals, has extended constitutional protection to the moral and sexual choices of homosexuals, and prohibits the federal government from treating state-sanctioned opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages differently,' Garcia wrote.

As expected, Texas Democrats hailed the decision, but Republicans vowed to appeal.

'This is a historic day for the LGBT community and the state of Texas,' state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said. 'As Dr. King once stated, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.' Today, all Texans can celebrate that we are one step closer to justice and equality for all.'

Texas Governor Rick Perry said that the law had been passed overwhelmingly by state voters, and he would seek to uphold it.

'Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens,' Perry said.

'We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state,' he added.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate to succeed Perry, said his office would appeal the ruling.

'The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that states have the authority to define and regulate marriage,' he said. 'The Texas Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.'

Garcia stayed his ruling pending appeal, so no same-sex marriages will take place in Texas until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the case.

Garcia, a former state legislator, was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton in 1993 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1994.

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