Gay-marriage debate erupts in Texas

So, perhaps you thought other states would debate whether to allow same-sex couples to marry, that Texas wouldn’t join that debate.

Think again.

Texas is about to have that debate, thanks to a federal court ruling.

A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that Texas’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment provision calling for equal protection under the law. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by President Clinton, has stayed his ruling pending a sure-fire appeal by the state.

It’ll be heard by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the state wins, look for the plaintiffs in the Texas lawsuit to take this issue even higher. And look for the state to go the same direction if it loses its appeal.

As the Texas Tribune has reported, state officials are unhappy with the ruling: “Gov. Perry, meanwhile, issued the following statement: ‘Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens,’ adding that ‘the 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions.'”

The Texas ruling puts the state in league with other states, such as Oklahoma, Utah, Kentucky and Virginia, that have seen similar bans overturned. Those cases also are pending appeal.

Texans voted overwhelmingly in 2005 to amend their state constitution to include language banning same-sex marriage. The amendment was added atop an existing statute that prohibited the practice. The feeling then was that the Legislature wanted to add another layer of authority on the issue.

However, the federal judiciary is seeing it differently, as the court rulings are suggesting.

Look for this issue, whether it’s from Texas or one of the other states affected by these decisions, to land on the lap of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is where the justices will really earn their pay.


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