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Texas Marriage Plaintiffs: Lift Ban Immediately

Texas Marriage Plaintiffs: Lift Ban Immediately

Texas Marriage Plaintiffs: Lift Ban Immediately

The judge who struck down the state's marriage ban in February put his ruling on hold, but much has changed since then, say the plaintiffs and their attorney.

The couples who sued Texas for marriage equality and got a favorable ruling from a federal court are asking the judge in that case to lift the stay on his decision and allow same-sex couples to begin marrying immediately.

The plaintiffs — couples Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes, and Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon — today filed a motion in U.S. District Court in San Antonio asking Judge Orlando Garcia to let the ruling he issued in February to take effect, The Dallas Morning Newsreports. He had put the ruling on hold while higher courts weighed in on the issue.

Now, though, several appeals courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality, and the U.S. Supreme Court has let those rulings stand, Neel Lane, the plaintiffs’ attorney, pointed out in the motion. “The court should immediately lift the stay because the Supreme Court’s actions following entry of the stay no longer support its continuance,” he wrote.

Lane allowed that the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the appellate court rulings isn’t the same as a high court decision for nationwide marriage equality, he wrote that “the constitutional environment” has “changed radically and permanently” since Garcia made his ruling. “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,” he wrote.

Same-sex couples in Texas continue to be harmed by lack of access to marriage, Lane continued, as they face discrimination in such areas as survivor benefits and they take on additional expenses for adoption, powers of attorney, and other legal matters.

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, who will take office as governor in the January, has appealed Garcia’s decision. Abbott and his staff contend there is no constitutional right to marry a same-sex partner. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear arguments in the case January 9.

Abbott, by the way, is defending the marriage ban despite his long friendship with one of the plaintiffs. He and Mark Phariss attended law school together at Vanderbilt University, and when Abbott was hospitalized for a spinal injury in 1984, Phariss was one of his visitors.

“I was clerking in a law firm in Tulsa and I flew down to be by his side with his wife and his mother,” Phariss told a Texas radio station in February. “He was a very good friend then, and I consider him a very good friend now.”

 

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