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Same-Sex Couples File Suit To Defeat Texas Marriage Equality Ban

December 2, 2013

Update: A federal judge in San Antonio has set a February court date to hear the lawsuit brought forth by two same-sex couples seeking to overturn a Texas amendment banning marriage equality. Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear the case at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 12 at the John H. Wood, Jr. United States Courthouse in San Antonio, reports the Houston Chronicle. Read below for our interview with the plaintiff’s attorney, SA-based litigator Daniel McLeen Lane. -MT

Two same-sex couples recently filed a federal lawsuit in San Antonio U.S. District Court to overturn Texas’ ban against their right to marry.

Creative Commons.

Creative Commons.

The suit looks to banish a 2005 constitutional amendment that reads, “[m]arriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman,” and, referring to forms of marriage like civil unions, “[t]his state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”

Rules against same-sex marriage are scattered throughout Texas law–the state’s family code prohibits counties from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples (enacted in 1997) and prevents lawful same-sex marriage from other states (enacted in 2003), a Texas version of the national Defense Against Marriage Act. The Act, heavily supported by conservative Republican leadership was, part of Gov. Rick Perry’s, “ongoing effort to prevent aggressive attempts to redefine marriage.” As the Current previously reported, while LGBT advocates celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against DOMA made earlier this year, same-sex couples in Texas continue to be shut out of the benefits.

San Antonio-based attorney and lead counsel for the couples, Daniel McLeen Lane, tells the Current the law is, “specifically designed to deny a minority of citizens the right to marry” and violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“My clients are simply asking to be treated the same as 80 to 90 percent of citizens of the U.S. who are afforded the opportunity to be married to the person they love and receive benefits that flow from that relationship,” said Lane.

As of now, 16 states plus Washington, D.C. allow same-sex marriage and five states offer some protections, according to Freedom to Marry, a national marriage equality advocacy group. (Today marks Hawaii’s first day of legal same-sex marriage. Illinois will follow come June.)

Lane expects the case to go to trial in late January or early February.

The case isn’t only being filed in SA, but the couples have San Antonio roots. The two women bringing the suit forward, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman– married in Boston, Massachusetts– and two men, Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss–who were denied a marriage license in Bexar County (County Clerk Gerard Rickhoff is a named defendant in the suit)– have all lived in San Antonio at some point in their lives, says Lane. De Leon and Holmes both served in the Air Force.

h/t Reuters

To read a copy of the civil case via Scribd: De Leon, Dimetman, Holmes, Phariss vs Perry, Abbott, Rickhoff, Lakey 

 

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  • surelyannoyed

    I’m Sorry but why do things have be changed for the few? I thought laws were made for the many not the few! Why do people keep trying to change things to make it fit their wants? As someone who doesn’t care either way, I am so sick and tired of others forcing their agenda on those who oppose them. Get over it, the state of Texas is a stubborn mule and the majority of Texans are conservatives who will never recognize gay marriage! You dont like it go to a state that does! That’s what so great about the US different states have different laws. Do not go running to big government because the state you chose to move to doesn’t want to recognize your marriage. I hate that, its citizens like that who ruin our government system. Its called compromise they call them civil unions be happy with that! Beggars cant be choosers, so get off your high horse and stop stomping all over the majority of Texas citizens who dont want this. When the time comes that they are the minority than fight for change. There is a process and people need to follow it!

  • surelydissapointed

    Dear Surleyannoyed,
    By your logic we should still have slavery… they should just relocate to a state that doesn’t enforce it, right? Realize that we live in the United States of America… not the Republic of Texas. In the U.S.A. people have the freedom to fight for what they think is right in this world and you going around with defeatist attitude IS the problem. Being passive does shit for our country. How about instead of telling everyone to give up or move out you grow some balls and care about what is going on in your country? Instead of protecting laws that only hurt good people and benefit the oppressors why can’t we make a society work for us all especially if you don’t “care either way”? Oh, and have you not read the US Constitution? Its our constitutional right to oppose laws we think are unjust and they are.You and people like you are the reason why people continue to be oppressed in our “free society”. So please, get off your “high horse” and embrace the future. A future where everyone is accepted for who they are and not who they fuck. Realize it because whether or not you like it…. change is coming.

    Sincerely,
    Surelydissapointed

  • Jeff Dunlop

    How do you even try to equate same sex marriage with slavery with a straight face?
    There is a great misconception that marriage and or sexual orientation is a civil rights issue and it’s not. Even the Supreme Court was smart enough not to go there when they struck down DOMA.
    I couldn’t care less if you get married to your pet goat as long as you 2 are happy, however the States have the right to define marriage within their borders. If the majority of taxpayers in that state vote against a proposal then deal with it and move on, quit trying to force acceptance because it will only backfire in the end.

  • angeliqueandrea

    I beg to differ surelyannoyed you do care and you don’t want people to have equal rights. This will pass in Texas and if you don’t like it? Move to another state, that’s what’s so great about living in the United States of America, freedom is for all not just you and your conservatives! So you get over it!

  • Lgbt San Antonio

    Im luvn it!

  • Devin Hamblet

    There was a time when minorities primarily African Americans couldn’t do the simplest things such as sit a lunch counter, drink from the same fountain, use different entrances, or live in the neighborhood of their choice due to their color, it was a little something called Jim Crow and those same conservatives were fighting tooth and nail against integration and this is no different .A law is wrong when it deprives any group of people liberties because of who they are or who they decide to be in love with, and if there is a law on the books like that , then that law should be removed. Just remember segregation ended around 50 years ago 40 years if you count the smaller rural towns and many states didn’t overturn interracial marriage until 1967. At some point, everybody has to accept change, the laws will change like it or not, if America didn’t go to Hell in a hand basket when segregation was struck down, it won’t happen now.

  • Katherine Garza

    When it comes to wanting to marry the Person you love then yes I believe in fighting for that.
    Ones marriage is not effectting the majority. I can sit and complain how straight marriages affect me but I won’t and can’t bc they don’t how do gay/lesbian marriages effect straight people? Interracial marriages were banned against and looked down upon because of racists and bigots and it is the same issue now. How can people fear or hate something so much? Honestly. Also, if anyone says they aren’t against gay marriage but yet say “well, go to a state that does!” You are a bigot and narrow minded. Just bc you believe you are in the majority doesn’t matter. Majority shouldn’t speak for the minorities and vice versa. Things should be equal all around for people to love and marry who they want. Straight marriages don’t have perfect track records obviously so no one should talk about the sanctity of straight marriages. Your religion shouldn’t play a role in government….seperate church and state.