by Megan Smith
The fight for marriage equality in Texas faces its next hurdle this month, with opening briefs in De Leon v. Perry, the challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban, to be filed July 9.
In late February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared Texas’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but stayed the injunction pending appeal by the state to the conservative-leaning Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. “Texas’s current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason,” Garcia wrote in his decision. “Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from enforcing Texas’s bans on same-sex marriage.”
In mid-April, the case’s plaintiffs, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss, filed an opposed motion to expedite the appeal, but the motion was denied.
Once the opening briefs are filed on July 9, the plaintiffs’ brief is due 30 days later. The court has yet to schedule oral arguments in the appeal.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marriage equality. In an additional 12 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of same-sex marriage, with many of these rulings (including Texas’s) now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts.
Most recently, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled in favor of marriage equality when he struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage on June 25. The ruling is the 21st consecutive victory in state and federal court in favor of marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling on Windsor v. United States.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals also issued a favorable ruling in late June involving marriage equality in Utah, upholding a federal judge’s December ruling declaring the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. This June ruling has the potential to pave the way for marriage equality throughout the Tenth Circuit, including in Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Kansas. However, a stay on the ruling has been issued pending further action, which could include an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This first federal appellate ruling affirms what more than 20 other courts all across the country have found: there is no good reason to perpetuate unfair marriage discrimination any longer,” Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson said in a statement following the ruling. “America is ready for the freedom to marry, and it is time for the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution, and it should do so now.”