The Houston Family Law Blog

Texas Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down, No Marriages Yet

Same-sex couples and their supporters rejoice: A federal judge has struck down Texas's ban on same-sex marriage because it violated the U.S. Constitution, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Although the ban was struck down, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia stayed his decision, which means that the ban will remain in effect until the decision is appealed.

So until the ban is appealed, same-sex couples in Texas won't be able to get married.

Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor last year, several states have had their gay marriage bans struck down by a federal court. Texas now joins Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Virginia -- all of which have had their gay marriage bans overturned in the past year.

In Texas, Judge Garcia held that the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violate the gay and lesbian couples' equal protection and due process rights under the U.S. Constitution, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Similar to the reasoning in the Windsor decision, Judge Garcia found that Texas had no legitimate interest in barring gay marriage. Further, the state had no rational interest in denying legal out-of-state gay marriages.

Aftermath of the Decision

While gay couples and their allies are celebrating the court's decision, other citizens of Texas may not be so happy. In fact, many Texans have worked pretty hard to deny marriage rights to gay couples through the years. In 2003, Texas passed a law prohibiting same-sex unions. Then in 2005, an amendment was added to Texas's state constitution that defined marriage is only between one man and one woman, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Now that those restrictive Texas laws have been struck down by the federal judge, gay couples aren't completely in the clear to get married yet. Judge Garcia stayed his own ruling to allow the state attorney general to appeal the decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for review.

So until the appeals are over, gay couples will have to hold off on getting married. However, the federal district court's decision is certainly a step in the right direction.

Need more help understanding your marriage rights? Contact a civil rights attorney in Houston for more information.

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