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Texas Judge Hands Marriage Equality Its Latest Victory

texasequality

It turns that you can, in fact, mess with Texas.

Or perhaps more accurately the Texas constitution. In a ruling handed down this afternoon, a federal judge found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is in violation of the equal protection guarantee found in the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by two couples: Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, who want to marry in Texas, and Cleopatra de Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who want their Massachusetts marriage recognized. Dimetman and De Leon are raising a child together.

Here is ThinkProgress’s LGBT Editor, Zack Ford, citing the decision:

According to the ruling, not only are these families denied benefits under the law, they are also subjected to “state sanctioned discrimination, stigma, and humiliation,” explaining: “In this case, it is clear that Plaintiffs suffer humiliation and discriminatory treatment under the law on the basis of their sexual orientation, and this stigmatic harm flows directly from Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.” Garcia cited Windsor, the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, noting that not recognizing same-sex marriages “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects.”

The decision marks the latest in a long and growing list of victories for supporters of same-sex marriage and equality. It is the seventh federal ruling in a row to side in favor of marriage equality since the Supreme Court, in United States v. Windsor, ruled to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act last June. Those include rulings in:

  • Utah: Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages, holding that “[t]he Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government.”
  • Oklahoma: Judge Terence Kern: “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”
  • Ohio: This case began because a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease wanted to ensure that he when he died, his death certificate would list his husband as his “surviving spouse.” It ended with judge Timothy Black holding that Ohio may not discriminate against same-sex couples who legally marry in another state. “Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution,” he wrote.
  • Kentucky: Judge John G. Heyburn, a George H.W. Bush appointee who once served as Special Counsel to future Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), held that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
  • Virginia: Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote a sweeping and poetic decision supporting same-sex marriage: “We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.”
  • Illinois: The state’s marriage equality law was not set to take effect until June 1, but this past Friday Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that same-sex couples can begin marrying immediately, at least in Cook County, where a lawsuit was filed. That afternoon, 46 couples rushed to the County Clerk David Orr’s office to be the first to get marriage licenses.

Over at Slate, David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick have an even more detailed breakdown of all the court victories for marriage equality since Windsor.

BOTTOM LINE: Texas is now the latest example of the momentum behind the freedom to marry – momentum to be found in both red and blue states across the country.