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Texas Same-Sex Couples Can't Marry Yet, Judge Rules

Texas Same-Sex Couples Can't Marry Yet, Judge Rules

Texas Same-Sex Couples Can't Marry Yet, Judge Rules

Judge Orlando Garcia turned down the plaintiffs' request to lift the stay of his pro-equality decision and let the weddings begin.

A federal judge in Texas today declined to lift the stay of his pro¬–marriage equality ruling, meaning same-sex couples in the state cannot marry while the case is on appeal.

“Lifting the stay would not bring finality. … To the contrary, such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubt to follow,” District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote in a court order. “The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and difficult journey for equality is closer than ever before.” He said he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide the matter.

Garcia ruled in February that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution, but he placed the ruling on hold during the appeals process. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is scheduled to hear the state’s appeal January 9, but last month the couples who sued Texas for marriage equality asked Garcia to lift his stay of the decision, given that since February, numerous appellate courts have ruled for equality and the Supreme Court has let those rulings stand.

However, Garcia noted that the Fifth Circuit recently declined to let a pro–equality ruling in Mississippi go into effect. A panel of Fifth Circuit judges will hear the appeal of that ruling and an anti–equality ruling from Louisiana the same day it hears the Texas case. “This Court shares the Fifth Circuit’s concern that lifting the stay would cause an ‘inevitable disruption that would arise from a lack of continuity and stability in this important area of the law’ and presents a potential harm not just to Texas but to Plaintiffs themselves and to the public at large,” Garcia wrote.

“We are disappointed in the ruling, but are looking forward to our day in court before the Fifth Circuit in January,” Neel Lane, a lawyer for the plaintiff couples, told The Dallas Morning News.

Mark Phariss, a plaintiff with partner Victor Holmes, told the News that as a lawyer himself, he understands Garcia’s logic but is nonetheless disappointed as well. “Just like every straight couple in love, we simply want to marry each other,” Phariss said.

Greg Abbott, Texas’s attorney general and governor-elect, recently said it would be “deeply offensive” and “a clear rebuke of the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction” if same-sex marriages began taking place before the appeals court rules.

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