A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] ruled [opinion] Wednesday that Article 1, Section 32 [text] of the Texas constitution, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process. The lawsuit includes two same-sex couples; one wishing to marry in the state of Texas and the other seeking to have Texas recognize their prior marriage, which took Massachusetts. Judge Orlando Garcia granted the couples' preliminary injunction enjoining the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage on the grounds that the ban violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment in that it deprives same-sex couples of their fundamental rights without furthering any legitimate interests. Garcia is the sixth federal judge [MSNBC report] to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriage since the US Supreme Court's ruling in US v. Windsor [JURIST report] last summer, which invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the american legal community, with legal challenges currently before numerous state and federal courts. Earlier this week Virginia appealed [JURIST report] a federal ruling against the state's same-sex marriage ban. Last week Oregon's Attorney General announced [JURIST report] her intention not to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage in court. Since July attorneys general in Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports] have made similar decisions not to defend bans on same-sex marriage. Also last week, a federal judge in Illinois ruled [JURIST report] that same sex couples in Cook County could be issued marriage licenses immediately, rather than wait until June, when the state's same-sex marriage law goes into effect. A federal judge in Kentuckey ruled [JURIST report] earlier this month that the state must recognize valid out-of-state same-sex marriages.