Same-Sex Couples File Suit To Defeat Texas Marriage Equality Ban
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.
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.
To read a copy of the civil case via Scribd: De Leon, Dimetman, Holmes, Phariss vs Perry, Abbott, Rickhoff, Lakey