Texas

Texas

De Leon v. Perry

On October 28, 2013, private lawyers in San Antonio, Texas filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry or respect for their legal marriage in Texas. In Texas, same-sex couples are prohibited from joining together in marriage because of a 2005 constitutional amendment. 

The two couples are Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes and Cleopatra De Leon & Nicole Dimetman. Pharriss and Holmes are unmarried, while De Leon and Dimetman married in Massachusetts in 2009 and are seeking respect for their marriage in Texas.

A hearing in the case occurred on February 12, 2014, and on February 26, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that laws in Texas prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional. The judge has also issued a stay on the ruling pending appeal, so same-sex couples will not be immediately allowed to receive marriage licenses.

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the ruling, saying: "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."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said shortly after the ruling came down that the state of Texas would be appealing the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

McNosky v. Perry

On July 29, 2013, a same-sex couple in Tarrant County, Texas filed a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in Texas. The couple, Sven Stricker and Christopher McNosky, are representing themselves in the lawsuit. They requested a marriage license in Fort Worth, TX on July 1 and were denied, per a constutitonal amendment and state statute in Texas restricting the freedom to marry to different-sex couples. 

In November, the state of Texas filed a request to consolidate three different marriage lawsuits in Texas. In January 2014, the request was denied, and each case will proceed independently. 

In December and January, the couple filed motions for summary judgment based on a ruling in Utah finding laws banning the freedom to marry unconstitutional. The couple wrote, "Just like Utah, the State of Texas has presented no such evidence illustrative of its perpetual and indefinite need to deny same-sex couples the same dignity and rights afforded to opposite-sex couples. Therefore, there is no compelling reason for Texas' same-sex marriage ban to remain valid in the eyes of the Court. There is abundant evidence favoring plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief."

Zahrn v. Perry

On October 31, 2013, private lawyers in Austin, Texas filed a federal lawsuit seeking class-action status for all same-sex couples who want to marry in Texas. The lawyers wrote that they seek class-action status as a cautionary measure to ensure that a favorable ruling is applied to all same-sex couples in Texas.

In November, the state of Texas filed a request to consolidate three different marriage lawsuits in Texas. In January 2014, the request was denied, and each case will proceed independently.

The couples include Shannon & Catherine Zahrn and Alexis Augustine & Andrew Simpson of Travis County. 

J.B. v. Dallas County and Texas v. Naylor

On August 29, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral arguments in these two separate lawsuits, filed by private lawyers on behalf of two same-sex couples who married in states with the freedom to marry but live in Texas, where marriage is restricted to different-sex couples. The plaintiffs in both cases married in Massachusetts in September 2006 and September 2004, respectively, but live in Dallas County and Austin. 

The state of Texas has claimed that the Texas Constitution and Family Code prohibit it from granting the divorces.

The Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments in the cases on November 5, 2013. Under Texas law, it is unclear whether the plaintiffs' out-of-state marriages can be terminated, because Texas does not respect marriages between same-sex couples.

In September 2013, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Texas filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the couples should be permitted to divorce in the state of Texas. 

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