On October 28, 2013, two couples filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Represented by private counsel, they argued that Texas's ban on same-sex marriage violated their federal Due Process and Equal Protection Rights. All four plaintiffs are Texas ...
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On October 28, 2013, two couples filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Represented by private counsel, they argued that Texas's ban on same-sex marriage violated their federal Due Process and Equal Protection Rights. All four plaintiffs are Texas residents. One couple married each other in Massachusetts in 2009, and seek recognition of that marriage, which is so far not forthcoming because they are both women. The other couple wish to be married in Texas, but were denied a license by the Bexar County Clerk because they are both men. Plaintiffs seek an immediate preliminary injunction against enforcement of Article I, section 32 of the Texas Constitution and corresponding provisions in the Texas' Family Code
Texas Family Code § 2.001, enacted in its current form in 1997, prohibits the county clerk of any Texas county from issuing a license for the marriage of persons of the same sex. In 2003, the Texas Legislature further amended the Texas Family Code to add § 6.204, which, among other things, prohibits recognition in Texas of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. S.B. 7, 78th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Tex. 2003); H.B. 38, 78th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Tex. 2003). Section 6.204 declares void all marriages between persons of the same sex and all civil unions. Tex. Fam. Code § 6.204(b).
In 2005, after approval by Texas' legislature, a proposed constitutionalization of the ban on same-sex marriage was placed on the ballot as Proposition 2; it passed with approximately 76% of the vote. Therefore, the Texas Constitution now defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. and prevents Texas and its political subdivisions from recognizing same-sex marriages. Tex. Const. Art. 1 § 32. Not only does it prevent same-sex couples from marrying, the Texas Constitution expressly bars Texas and its political subdivisions from "creat[ing] or recogniz[ing] any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
Plaintiffs' challenge is directed against all of these provisions.
After a hearing on the preliminary injunction, the District Court (Judge Orlando Garcia) found for the plaintiffs on February 26, 2014, holding that the ban on same-sex marriage violates both the equal protection and due process rights of the plaintiffs. The Court stayed its own order pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On October 7, 2014, the Court of Appeals granted the same-sex couples' motion to expedite oral argument. On December 12, 2014, the District Court (Judge Orlando Garcia) denied the plaintiffs' motion to lift the stay. The Fifth Circuit heard argument on January 9, 2015.
As of April 17, 2015, the Court of Appeals has yet to issue a decision. Margo Schlanger - 02/26/2014