TEXAS: Judge Could Rule Today On Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuits

Today is potentially a very big day in Texas. Via Lone Star Q:

A federal judge in San Antonio will hear arguments Wednesday morning on whether he should bar Texas from enforcing its bans on same-sex marriage pending a trial. Two same-sex couples are seeking a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit challenging the state’s marriage bans on grounds they violate their right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. The Texas Legislature banned same-sex marriage by statute in 1997 and again in 2003, and Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman in 2005. U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia, a President Bill Clinton appointee, could rule from the bench today on the injunction or issue a decision later. If Garcia grants the injunction, it’s likely his decision will be stayed and immediately appealed to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. Experts say it’s unlikely there would be any window for same-sex marriages to occur.

More from the Associated Press:

Wednesday’s hearing combines two cases, one from Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit complaining that Texas’ ban unconstitutionally denies them the fundamental right to marry because of their sexual orientation. The other lawsuit was filed by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who argue that Texas officials are violating their rights and those of their 2-year-old child by not recognizing their marriage license from Massachusetts. Holmes and De Leon are both U.S. Air Force veterans who served in San Antonio, though both couples have since moved away.

The hearing begins at 9:30am local time. (Tipped by JMG reader Mike)

UPDATE: The judge has declined to rule today.

The hearing Wednesday morning before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia lasted about two hours. Federal marshals had geared up in case there were clashes between supporters of gay rights and opponents, courthouse sources said. “As we all know, no matter how I decide this, this matter is going to be appealed in time,” Garcia said, adding that any of the courts who have been dealing with same-sex marriage will make their way to the Supreme Court. To get a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs would have had to convince Garcia that they are likely to win when the full lawsuit is litigated later and show that they are being harmed right now.

Garcia gave no timetable for his decision.