A U.S. federal judge ruled Wednesday that a ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Texas is unconstitutional, bringing same-sex couples in the state one step closer to marriage equality.
“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,” said U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”
The ruling will not go into effect immediately, as it awaits an appeal by the state. However, Garcia said the two couples who filed the lawsuit against the state are likely to win their case in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Following the ruling, Evan Wolfson, founder and president of marriage equality group Freedom to Marry, stated:
Today the 6th federal judge in a row has ruled – in Texas – that there is simply no legitimate justification for denying marriage to loving gay and lesbian couples. The court's holding is solid and serious, and follows the language and logic of the Supreme Court's marriage ruling last year and the Constitution's clear command. With 47 marriage cases in 25 states now moving forward, and the possibility that a freedom to marry case will again reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue the conversations and progress -- Texan to Texan, American to American -- that show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.
The ruling is the latest in a string of legal decisions to favor of same-sex marriage in predominantly conservative states including cases in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia.