Victor Holmes (left) and Mark Phariss
AUSTIN, Texas (KENS) - Two weeks after two same-sex couples pleaded for the state of Texas
not to ban gay marriage, a district federal judge has ruled on the
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia granted the couples a preliminary
injunction, which would strike down the same-sex marriage ban, pending
the outcome of any appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Read the ruling here. (PDF)
On Feb. 12, a federal courtroom in San Antonio became the epicenter of
the debate over Texas' same-sex marriage ban and whether it holds up
under the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Wednesday afternoon on a
pre-trial request to temporarily bar Texas from enforcing its ban while a
lawsuit filed by two gay couples proceeds.
Plaintiffs Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss allege the 2005 ban treats the LGBT community unequally.
"We are extremely happy -- happy beyond words -- with Judge Garcia's
decision. Having been together almost 17 years, we look forward to the
day when we can get married and when all gay Texans enjoy equal rights
to marry as well," Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes said in a press release
about the ruling.
"Today, Judge Garcia affirmed that the Equal Protection Clause
applies to all Texans. We are delighted by that decision, and we expect
that, if appealed, it will be upheld," according to the release.
Judge Garcia acknowledged two weeks ago that this issue will probably be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in a divided vote.
"Today we've taken a great step towards justice for our family,"
Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon said in a press release about the
"We are thrilled with the ruling and remain hopeful that this matter
will continue to move quickly through the courts. Ultimately, the repeal
of Texas' ban will mean that our son will never know how this denial of
equal protections demeaned our family and belittled his parents'
relationship. We look forward to the day when, surrounded by friends and
family, we can renew our vows in our home state of Texas," the couple
said according to the release.
"You can't just use any common characteristic of married couples to say
that that's a justification for restricting same-sex marriage,"
plaintiff's attorney Neil Lane said.
"Same-sex parents have the same issues, the same challenges and the same property issues that opposite couples have."
The state went before a U.S. federal district court judge and said 150
years of Texas tradition and history can't be re-written with one
"The people have weighed in and this issue is settled as it has been for
many years," Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz said. "If the folks
that are advocating for redefining marriage think that their arguments
have merit and they have the will of the people, take it to the
"It was love at first sight for me," Mark Phariss said.
The couple wants to get married, but when they applied for a marriage
license last October, they said the Bexar County clerk's office refused
to issue it because Holmes and Phariss are both men.
"She said, 'You're kidding, right?'" Phariss said. "We said, 'Uh, no.' So she essentially said, 'We don't do that in Texas.'"
"There's a dramatic change just since the constitutional ban was passed in 2005," Phariss said.
Gov. Rick Perry continues to back the ban, and state Attorney General
Greg Abbott has vowed to defend the ban, as with the case of any state
law challenged in court.
""I am gratified-no, thrilled-that Judge Garcia has held that our
clients are entitled to enjoy the same rights as other citizens of this
state to marry the person they love. This is a great day for all
Texans," Lane said.
"Judge Garcia has added one more voice to the chorus that is rising
around the country, declaring that all citizens have the right to
marriage equality. I am happy for Nichole and Cleo, Marc and Victor,
who want nothing more than for their relationships to be treated with
dignity," Barry Chasnoff said, an Akin Gump Attorney.
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