Same-Sex Marriage Ban Gets Another Challenge In Texas

Sep. 10, 2014Houston Public Media

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is one of five federal appellate courts reviewing rulings that overturned gay marriage bans in 11 states. The latest challenge comes from San Antonio attorney Neel Lane, whose firm represents two couples.

Federal Judge Orlando Garcia previously struck down restrictions on same sex marriage in Texas. The state appealed Judge Garcia’s ruling.

“My clients, the plaintiffs in this case, are asking the court that they be treated the same as all other Texans that is, that they be allowed to express their love and commitment to each other in the form of marriage that’s recognized by the state of Texas,” Lane says.

Previously, Judge Garcia ruled that laws that deprive gays and lesbians of the right to marry each other are unconstitutional.

Lane says the judge ruled that Texas could not enforce those restrictions any more.

“But he stayed the decision until the 5th Circuit could address it, and now is our chance to have the 5th Circuit address it,” said Lane. “The state, the attorney general and the governor have appealed, and today we filed our brief, responding.”

Professor Charles Rocky Rhodes is with the South Texas College of Law.

“There are several of the bans on same-sex marriage, where briefs have been filed in front of the United States Supreme Court already,” said Rhodes. “So, we’re going to probably have a decision from the United States Supreme Court pretty soon on whether they’re going to take one of these cases.”

He says if appellate courts continue the unbroken streak of rulings in favor of gay marriage, that could make it easier for the nation’s highest court to come down on the side of supporters.

“That’s certainly does fall within the type of cases that the United States Supreme Court typically has to resolve, because there’s differences of opinion with respect to this issue, and we need one final decision from the ultimate decision maker on what the constitution means,” said Rhodes.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Neel Lane expects oral arguments to be heard soon.

“And if necessary, we would go to the Supreme Court thereafter,” said Lane. “But we don’t think it’ll be necessary for us to do that, because we think the 5th Circuit will affirm Judge Garcia’s ruling,” said Lane.

Both Lane and Rhodes agree that rulings could be issued beginning this fall.