Thursday, February 27, 2014

Federal District Court Strikes Down Texas Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday in De Leon v. Perry, (WD TX, Feb. 26, 2014), a Texas federal district court held unconstitutional Texas' statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriages and their prohibition on recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Granting a preliminary injunction, the court said:
[T]oday's Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution. Furthermore, Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from passing legislation born out of animosity against homosexuals (Romer), has extended constitutional protection to the moral and sexual choices of homosexuals (Lawrence), and prohibits the federal government from treating state-sanctioned opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages differently (Windsor).
Applying the United States Constitution and the legal principles binding on this Court by Supreme Court precedent, the Court finds that Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution and corresponding provisions of the Texas Family Code are unconstitutional. These Texas laws deny Plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex. The Court finds this denial violates Plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The court however stayed the execution of the preliminary injunction pending final disposition of any appeal to the 5th Circuit. According to the Dallas Morning News , state attorney general Greg Abbott says the state will appeal.  Washington Post places the decision in a broader context. Texas Gov. Rick Perry yesterday issued a statement (full text) reacting to the decision, saying in part:
it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn't be achieved at the ballot box.