SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, although Texas couples won't be able to get marriage licenses just yet.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the state's ban unfairly deprives gay citizens equal protection and due process under the law by treating them differently than their straight neighbors.
“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” he said in his order. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”
In addition to the injunction against the state's 2003 law and 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages, Garcia also issued an immediate stay on his order, until it can be reviewed on appeal. It is almost certainly headed for appeal by Attorney General Greg Abbott, also a Republican candidate for governor.
The suit was brought to court by a gay couple from Plano who wish to get married and a lesbian couple from Austin who want their out-of-state marriage recognized by Texas. Two other suits are winding their way through federal courts in Texas, and similar cases are coming up in 23 other states.
The Texas ruling follows in the footsteps of similar decisions in Ohio, Utah and Virginia, all pending appeal. Another 17 states and the District of Columbia already recognize same-sex marriages.